House Republicans on Wednesday issued a subpoena to Secretary of State John Kerry demanding that he turn over the government paper trail on the Keystone XL Pipeline permit process that has spanned nearly seven years.
"Congress has a right to review these documents," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform panel.
Chaffetz said State has been "uncooperative" in responding to the committee's request for documents, and said his subpoena is both "necessary and appropriate."
"We will not be stymied in carrying out our responsibility to the American people to effectively oversee the executive branch," he said.
State Department spokesman John Kirby acknowledged receiving the subpoena and said the agency would respond “appropriately” to it.
He also noted that the department had sent Chaffetz a letter Tuesday informing him that because the permit review process is still under “active consideration,” they would only hand over the documents from the eight agencies involved in the review after making a final decision on expanding the pipeline.
“Because we are committed to transparency and want to ensure members of Congress have answers to their questions, we assured the committee that after a decision is made, we will release the comments of the eight executive advising agencies,” Kirby said in a statement.
State has been considering the environmental implications and whether the 1,179-mile expansion of the oil pipeline is in the "national interest" since 2008, frustrating Republicans supporters of the project. The House oversight panel began investigating the lengthy review process earlier this year.
Back in February, Chaffetz asked Kerry for documents the State Department received from other federal agencies involved in weighing in on the review process.
He sent the letter the same day President Obama vetoed a bill that would have forced approval of the pipeline, saying the measure "attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest."