Keystone XL

Pipeline Permitting and the Limits of Executive Power

By | Energy, Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action, Shopfloor Legal, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

The tortured, roundabout, drawn-out process that led last fall to the final disapproval of the Keystone XL pipeline project was equal parts astonishing and frustrating.  After a seven-year process, in the wake of determinations clearly to the contrary by the State Department, and in the face of unambiguous Congressional support, the Administration finally disapproved of the pipeline, finding that it was not in the national interest to approve the project.  Supporters of the pipeline wondered how it could be possible that the Executive branch could have such sweeping authority to kill a private commercial project that enjoyed strong bipartisan Congressional support and which the Administration had previously supported.  The decision clearly appeared to be one based on politics, but was it also one based on legitimate Constitutional authority?   In a brief recently filed by the Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas, we join TransCanada in arguing that it was not.

In our amicus brief in TransCanada v. Kerry, we argue that the State Department’s prohibition of the pipeline violated the Constitutional separation of powers.  The Constitution explicitly grants to Congress the authority to regulate foreign commerce.  A cross-border pipeline clearly falls in the domain of foreign commerce.  While the Executive branch possesses the implied authority to regulate foreign affairs, which is oftentimes exercised collaboratively with Congress, and has relied upon that authority in this case, it does not have the authority to usurp the power of Congress to regulate commerce, particularly when Congress has clearly and repeatedly acted to demonstrate its support for construction of the pipeline.

While the President has noted that the pipeline crosses an international border, thereby implicating foreign affairs interests that fall within the realm of the implied power of the Executive, the justification offered for regulating the pipeline has nothing to do with border crossing, relations with Canada, or national security.  Rather, the President encroached on Congressional authority to regulate commerce in this case to create a helpful bargaining chip in the unrelated matter of the Paris Climate Change talks.  While this may be a legitimate political concern, it is not a permissible exercise of the foreign affairs power.

Stay tuned as this case progresses through the courts.  Not only are the specifics of the case very important, but in this era of heightened Executive branch power, the underlying separation of powers principles are equally so.

Obama Denies Keystone XL Pipeline, Choosing Politics Over Policy

By | Energy, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 1.31.44 PMLast Friday, President Obama announced his decision to deny TransCanada Corporation its permit to construct the Keystone XL pipeline.

Not only did the President disappoint manufacturers across the country, but he also made a historic mistake. After seven years of waiting for a decision on this permit application, this decision is a clear signal that the United States isn’t open for business for everyone. It also undermines the existing permitting process—one that is supposed to set clear rules of the road for companies to meet to secure approval. The Administration continually raised the bar for approval of Keystone XL, and every time TransCanada met (or exceeded) it, the Administration raised it again. Read More

Top Five Questions on Energy That Will Not Be Asked at the Republican Presidential Debate… But Manufacturers Are Waiting to Hear the Answers  

By | Energy, Shopfloor Economics | No Comments

Tonight, Republican presidential hopefuls will gather in Boulder, Colorado, to discuss their positions on the economy, tax policy, immigration, job creation and a host of other issues.

Although the debate is likely to cover many topics important to manufacturers, one topic critically important to manufacturing growth and potential is environmental and energy policy. Yet, as the debate begins in the heart of Colorado, a state that is a leader in the American energy boom, it is doubtful energy will get the air time it deserves. Read More

The Real Neverending Story

By | Energy | No Comments

Flash back to seven years ago, when TransCanada first applied for the Keystone XL Pipeline. Imagine how you were enjoying watching Tina Fey do her first Saturday Night Live skit impersonating Sarah Palin on the Presidential Campaign trail, reading about Blockbuster offering to buy out Circuit City in hopes of improving both their businesses, and getting your first Starbucks loyalty card. Perhaps you were seeing Michael Jackson celebrate his 50th birthday, reading your emails on a brand new iPhone 3G, and watching Britney Spears’ emotional breakdown on the news. Seven years is a long time, and the country has kept growing and evolving, but Keystone XL has continued to wait. Read More

What does “business as usual” even mean anymore?

By | Energy | No Comments

The long road for the Keystone XL Pipeline has been anything but ordinary. The project’s application has been left to collect dust, as of tomorrow, for seven years. To put that into perspective with other infrastructure projects, both the Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge took four years to build. Even the Eiffel Tower took only two years, two months and five days; the Empire State, the world’s tallest building for almost 40 years, was done in just one year and 45 days. It’s staggering when you think about the delays this project has been made to endure, especially considering that the current application for Keystone XL is just 875 miles long, a fraction of the 2.6 million miles of oil and gas pipeline currently constructed in the United States. It would give us the capability to transport  830,000 barrels of crude oil a day, create over 42,00 jobs, and add 3.4 billion to the U.S. GDP. Construction alone would involve nearly 1,000 companies in 47 states to build this pipeline — injecting $20 billion into our economy. Read More

Veto Override Falls Short in Senate, Manufacturers Hope For Action

By | Energy | No Comments

Today, the Senate voted to override President Obama’s veto of a bill to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and even though this vote did not receive the 2/3rds approval needed to pass (failed by a vote of 62-37), it shows a dedication from Senate leadership to this important infrastructure project. This project would create tens of thousands of new jobs, opportunities for working men and women and energy abundance here in the United States. Read More

Cables from Canada: NAM Sister Organization Visits Headquarters

By | Economy, Energy, Infrastructure | No Comments
Jay Timmons and Jay Myers, president and CEO of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) meet at NAM Headquarters on November 21, 2013 to discuss the Keystone XL pipeline and North American manufacturing issues.

Jay Timmons and Jay Myers, president and CEO of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) meet at NAM Headquarters on November 21, 2013 to discuss the Keystone XL pipeline and North American manufacturing issues.

Yesterday, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) President and CEO Jay Myers visited the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) headquarters in Washington, DC. CME is NAM’s Canadian sister organization and close partner in promoting the manufacturing agenda across both borders. The NAM Communications office sat down for a brief Q&A with Mr. Myers. Here are a few excerpts from the discussion.

NAM Communications: Can you tell us about the CME and its membership?

Mr. Myers: We are Canada’s largest industry trade association, representing over 10,000 members across Canada. We are Canada’s counterpart to the NAM and our job is to represent the interests of manufacturers operating in Canada, of course many of the companies are headquartered in the United States, which is one reason why we work so close with the NAM.

NAM Communications: Can you tell us about how the CME and the NAM work together in both countries?

Mr. Myers: We’ve had a long-standing relationship with the NAM that continues to grow closer and closer as we deal with energy issues, cross border issues, regulatory cooperation issues, and trade policy. It used to be that the NAM and CME were talking about how to build a free trade environment between the United States and Canada, and now it’s about how we take that great model that we developed here with NAFTA and apply to it grow business around the world, get access to new markets, and make sure we’ve got a competitive energy infrastructure base here in North America.

NAM Communications: What does the Keystone project mean to Canadian manufacturers and to the Canadian economy in General?

Mr. Myers: Keystone is a very strategic issue for the Canadian economy. It’s about the ability to supply oil from Western Canada to not only one of the world’s largest markets, but also to the refineries that have been set up to handle that market on the Gulf Coast. Without Keystone, the oil coming out of Western Canada is kept from entering this major market, and there are really only two other alternatives. In Canada, because we need access to international markets, pipelines will be built east and west. If pipelines are going to the Pacific, the oil may possibly go the West Coast of the United States, but more likely to China. Likewise, pipelines are being built to Eastern Canada, and that oil is going to Europe.  Unfortunately, this issue has become politicized. Clearly, if Keystone is turned down, it’s going to be very difficult to go ahead with any major north-south pipeline. Again, it’s a very important strategic issue for the Canadian economy. I don’t think people truly appreciate the chill that turning down Keystone will put on the Canadian’s economic relationship with the United States. For investment generally, it’s going to be very important that we see that pipeline succeed.

Approval and construction of the Keystone pipeline is a priority for manufacturers, and Mr. Myer’s comments illustrate exactly why this project goes beyond energy security and new jobs. It’s about fostering an environment in which economic growth and continued global competition can take place. As noted by Mr. Myers, denial of the Keystone pipeline would do just the opposite by chilling Canadian and U.S. economic relations.

Over 165 Business Leaders Ask President Obama to Approve Keystone XL

By | Economy, Energy | No Comments

Last week, more than 165 business executives signed a letter to President Obama urging him to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project. The letter was a joint effort of the NAM, Business Roundtable and U.S. Chamber of Commerce and garnered media coverage from numerous outlets including National JournalThe HillPolitico and Houston Chronicle.

“We are at an inflection point in our economic recovery,” the letter stated. “Whether economic growth will remain modest or pick up speed will depend on maintaining investor confidence and strengthening America’s competitiveness. The decision on Keystone XL will affect both.”

With September 19 of this year marking the five-year anniversary of the original Keystone XL project’s application for a permit, Manufacturers continue to be at the forefront of efforts to encourage the President to approve this project.

The NAM will continue to work with business and labor leaders as well as Congress and the Administration to get final approval for the pipeline. Approval of this job-creating project will send a clear signal that we are serious about getting America back to work.


Unhappy Anniversary!

By | Economy, Energy | No Comments

It is hard to believe that today marks the 5 year anniversary of the Keystone XL pipeline permit application. Keystone XL pipeline has been waiting for Presidential approval longer than any other cross-border pipeline project.

This project represents a high opportunity cost, and unfortunately  we have paid a high price in the form of delayed economic growth and job-creation that would stem from the project. In a statement yesterday, The North American Building Trades Unions lamented the loss of building trade jobs during a time period where the construction industry hovers around 9 per cent, and our nation’s unemployment lingers at 7-8 percent.

In Gascoyne, ND there is a virtual grave yard of hundreds of miles of steel pipe waiting to be put to use building the Keystone XL. TransCanada purchased these pipes several years ago at a cost of over $200 million, and once approved the town of Gascoyne will experience all the benefits of increased economic activity. Until then it will continue to be a symbol of indecision and missed opportunities.

Make no mistake, if this were really only about a pipeline this project would have not only been approved but finished. Keystone XL has become the rallying cry for those that believe the project is the tipping point on climate change, regardless of experts confirming that the project would have no material impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

This is not a happy anniversary for this country, our economy or our energy security. This anniversary reminds us only that our government can’t get out of its own way and that thousands of workers have been denied the opportunity to make a good wage, contribute to our economy and provide for their families.  Manufacturers continue to urge the President to approve this important project.


Five Announcements That Manufacturers Would Like To See From the President Today

By | Economy, Energy, Immigration, immigration reform, Regulations, Taxation, Trade | No Comments

Approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline’s Presidential Permit Application

  • It’s been nearly five years since the Presidential Permit application was filed to construct the Keystone XL Pipeline. In addition to the 20,000 construction jobs that the pipeline would create, 118,000 jobs would be created in the supply chain of the pipeline. These are manufacturing jobs to make the steel, valves, compressor stations and heavy equipment necessary to make the pipeline become a reality. Keystone XL needs to be approved for the good of our country’s competitiveness, our nation’s energy consumers, our national interests and especially the 138,000 Americans who desperately need the jobs that this project would create.

Continued Focus on Immigration Reform

  • Immigration reform will lift America up – it is intrinsic to who we are as a nation. It’s far too important to allow demagoguery to derail comprehensive reform, and all parties involved should avoid the traditional politicking that often accompanies this issue. The NAM is committed to seeing it through, and we will, because it is the right thing to do.

Re-examination of EPA Regulations that Hurt Manufacturers and Job Creation

  • Over the past several years, the EPA has proposed and implemented an array of regulations that are hurtful to the economy, including the Boiler MACT, Utility MACT and PM 2.5 NAAQS. Now, the EPA is considering another proposal that would further limit the construction of new fossil-fuel power plants, potentially taking stable and affordable sources of energy off the table and putting the power grid at further risk. The cumulative impact of these regulations is bad news for the manufacturing economy and will result in less reliable electricity at a higher price. Manufacturers and the 12 million people making things in America want a strategy that includes all available domestic sources of energy. Piling on with more costly regulations is not the answer.

Stronger Push for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)

  • The NAM commends President Obama for advocating for TPA in a recent Presidential address, and supports all efforts to ensure he receives this crucial authority. A robust international trade and investment negotiating agenda is vital to the success of manufacturing in the United States. To create jobs and drive growth, manufacturers must be able to reach the 95 percent of consumers who live outside our borders. When overseas markets are open, businesses and workers win. Durable negotiating authority that includes strong provisions on consultation and review by Congress is a fundamental requirement of an effective U.S. negotiating structure to open foreign markets.

New Approach To Comprehensive Tax Reform

  • NAM would like to see the Administration offer support to Congress’ efforts to pass revenue neutral tax reform for corporations and individuals that leaves no one behind. Tax reform is essential to long term economic growth in this nation – and the White House should offer strong support to reform that refuses to pick winners and losers but instead reduces the tax burden on all Americans.