WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2013 – A bipartisan group of 53 senators sent a letter today to President Obama urging him to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline – a day after Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman gave approval of a revised route through his state.
In sending the letter, supporters hope for new momentum to gain Obama’s approval of the pipeline that would transport oil from the Alberta oil sands south to refineries in Texas. Opponents have argued the 1,700-mile project would increase global warming and make the United States more dependent on “dirty fossil fuel.”
The White House originally postponed action in 2011 on the permit until 2013, citing environmental concerns, particularly in the Sand Hills of Nebraska, a vast network of dunes with a shallow water aquifer.
The new pipeline route, approved by the Republican governor, would avoid the Sand Hills area.
“Nebraska has now addressed the outstanding concerns you raised when you denied the permit, and we therefore urge you to finish expeditiously the review process and approve the pipeline,” the letter said. “The pipeline would have minimal environmental impact and would generate significant economic benefits in the state. This is on top of the thousands of good-paying union jobs and millions of dollars in economic development for our country as a whole, none of which cost any taxpayer money.”
At a press conference today with 10 bipartisan senators, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said thousands of jobs would be created by the pipeline and that it “can’t wait any longer.”
“We’ve waited for four years and now is the time,” Baucus said. “There are no safety concerns here.”
Baucus and other senators warned that Canada would build the pipeline to its own west coast, if the U.S. project is not approved, and sell its oil to China.
“Canada plans to develop this oil resource and the only question is whether we receive the oil from our friend and ally or whether Canada is forced to look for new partners in Asia because we turned them away,” the letter said.
Today’s letter follows a similar letter sent to Obama in November from 18 bipartisan senators calling on him to approve the project once Nebraska’s concerns were addressed. In addition, the letter asked for a meeting with the president to discuss the project. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., told reporters they have not received a response to that letter.
“The president has long-cited Nebraska’s concerns as a reason not to approve the project, but now that those concerns have been addressed, there is no reason to further delay a project that will create thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity for the United States,” Hoeven said. “After more than four-and-a half-years and an exhaustive review process, it’s time to come together, Republicans and Democrats, and do what is clearly in our national interest.”
Hoeven said he is planning to reintroduce legislation allowing Congress to approve the pipeline if the president fails to do so. A similar bill received 56 votes in the Senate last year, falling short of a necessary 60 votes.
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