The TransCanada pipeline, called the Keystone XL, has started down a new path. Over the past few years, it has been reviewed by each of the states that would be crossed by its construction from tar pits in Canada to refineries in Texas. The last approval, by Governor Dave Heineman of Nebraska, was given last month, after the governor was given an alternative route to by-pass the Ogallala Aquifer (the largest underground fresh water supply in the United States) and to accommodate various ecological concerns (habitats of various species).
It returned to Washington, for approval from the State Department (since it crosses an international border, executive approval was sent through State, rather than the Interior Department, which is generally in charge of drilling and oil production, like the Gulf Oil Crisis). With delays from the transition from Hilary Clinton to John Kerry, and no pressure from the White House to move any faster, assurances are that the pipeline will be reviewed and a final decision will be made. This year. Sometime.
Last year, during presidential debates, President Obama assured everyone he was eager to become energy independent, using all available sources, just like candidate Mitt Romney, who supported the pipeline unequivocally. Now, the election is over, the interests of the "green energy" lobby are back to the forefront, and ecological groups are offering resistance and criticism to rationalize a slow decision-making process (this is a fence the president probably prefers to sit on until the 2014 elections, to see if he can pump up his party's controls in Congress just a little more.)
Those who see the pipeline as a potential source of jobs, and energy, are not that patient. Now, starting with Congressman Lee Terry, from Omaha, a bill (HR 3, a designation to state it is a high priority issue) has been introduced in the House to begin work on the pipeline, immediately. A similar bill has also been introduced in the Senate by John Hoeven of North Dakota, a state already experiencing extreme growth and prosperity due to oil production.
If legislation is passed, it will still require the president's approval, either directly or indirectly through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Critics claim the move is entirely political, and that passing the laws will not change anything. That is possible, but it will still force an answer from the White House and not allow it to become a political "Lost Ark" to be hidden away and reviewed by "top men" until the issue is forgotten.