Detroit Free Press: Michigan senators propose Keystone bill changes

Michigan's U.S. senators introduced two amendments to pending legislation intended to authorize the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, though it was a long shot that either proposal would be passed in the Republican-dominated chamber.

The Senate is currently considering the legislation, which President Barack Obama's administration has already signaled he could veto despite support in both chambers of Congress. The bill would authorize a pipeline crossing into the U.S. from Canada to move oil refined from tar sands in Alberta.

Michigan's senators -- Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, both Democrats -- oppose the pipeline but have introduced amendments which, if passed, could address related issues in Michigan regarding pipeline safety and the dangers of petroleum coke, a byproduct of oil refining.

A pile of pet coke along the riverfront in Detroit in the summer of 2013 caused widespread environmental concerns even though officials played down any dangers. Peters and Stabenow are calling for an amendment to the Keystone bill which would call for a study of the potential risks associated with pet coke.

A second amendment would require federal regulators to certify they have the necessary resources for proper oversight of pipelines in the Great Lakes before approving construction of the Keystone pipeline and call for recommendations to be developed to better ensure pipeline safety in the region.

Although the Keystone would not pass through Michigan, concerns about other Canadian-owned pipelines have been raised in the state in recent years. A pipeline break near Marshall in 2010 resulted in the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history, and some state residents are worried about an aging pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.

"These amendments will give us the information needed to better understand the risks posed by the Keystone XL Pipeline," Peters said.

Source: Detroit Free Press