Yesterday was an eventful day in U.S. energy news. After several delays by the Obama Administration to approve the much debated Keystone XL Pipeline, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources passed a bill 12 to 10 “to approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline without a Presidential permit.” The bill essentially takes the president out of the approval process on this issue.
According to Chairwoman of the Committee, Mary Landrieu, a Democrat from Louisiana, “Two events in the last 24 hours underscore clearly why today’s vote to approve the Keystone Pipeline was important. The Canadian government has conditionally approved the 730 mile Enbridge’s Northern Gateway to send oil sands to the West Coast of Canada instead of the Gulf Coast. And, yesterday, al-Qaeda affiliated militants attacked the largest oil refinery in Iraq…” (AP 6-18-14). It’s important to note that the approval of this bill perhaps is more symbolic as, according to the Wall Street Journal, the Keystone isn’t in the jurisdiction of the energy committee and will “likely go first to the Foreign Relations Committee because it is a cross-border project”. (Wall Street Journal 6-19-14). It will be interesting to see what will come of this decision and next steps.
Another important piece of energy news is the announcement of a bipartisan plan proposed by Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Bob Corker (R-TX). The plan would raise federal gasoline taxes, currently 18.4 cents per gallon, and diesel taxes, currently 24.4 cents a gallon, each by 12 cents over the next two years. The funds collected from the increase in taxes would be given to the Federal Highway Trust Fund. According to Senator Murphy, “For too long, Congress has shied away from taking serious action to update our country’s aging infrastructure. We’re currently facing a transportation crisis that will only get worse if we don’t take bold action to fund the Highway Trust Fund.” (AP 6-18-14)