Could GOP Congress overrule Obama on Keystone XL?


Republicans in the House of Representatives today held a hearing on legislation that would do just that in the event that Obama denies a permit for the proposed pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf Coast..

Could they get away with it?

Maybe, reports the Washington Post in an interesting article.

Such a move would raise constitutional division-of-powers questions:

The Congressional Research Service has examined this question in two separate reports, and in a 2012 report, it suggests Congress has just as much a right to weigh in on international pipelines as the president.

That report notes, “Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution authorizes Congress to ‘regulate Commerce with foreign Nations.’ Whereas any independent presidential authority in matters affecting foreign commerce derives from the President’s more general foreign affairs authority, Congress’s power over foreign commerce is plainly enumerated by the Constitution, suggesting that its authority in this field is preeminent.”

Now, just to complicate matters, a 2013 CRS report notes that a 2010 ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota found the president had the right to issue international pipeline permits because Congress had not challenged this authority over a period of several years.

Such a move would trigger lawsuits. And, of course, Obama can veto any legislation out of Congress. So is there enough support in Congress to override a presidential veto with a super-majority vote? Not yet. Notes the Post:

…on March 22 the Senate approved a non-binding resolution in favor of building the project by a vote of 62 to 37, with 17 Democrats voting in favor.

So in the end, can Congress grant a permit to the pipeline even if Obama rejects it? It appears proponents may be able to force the project through, if they can attract a few more Democrats to their side, but they would still have to fight in federal court to seal such a victory.

Full story is here.


Could GOP Congress overrule Obama on Keystone XL?

  1. The confusion over Keystone is ultimately one of a failure to educate the public. As a result, the problem has been incorrectly framed for decision-making.

    “Business as usual” will lead to disaster and is now out of the question. We are at war with our own behavior and it is time to gear up, impose discipline, and win the planet back.

    We must first consider the over-arching nature of reality. Contrary to the prevailing view, the economy is a subset of our ecology — not the other way around.

    Ecology is what we live in. We are dependent on the land base and we need it to survive. Our society lives within the land base, and inside our society is the economy. The most basic necessity is not the economy, but the ecology, and this truth must be recognized in order to map our recovery.

    A way ahead is proposed at:

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