WASHINGTON — Republican senators on Friday asked President Barack Obama to make a final decision soon on whether to permit the Keystone XL pipeline that would link Canada’s oil sands with Gulf Coast refineries.
In a letter to the president, all of the Senate’s 45 Republicans insisted that the Obama administration “has had more than enough time to issue a final (environmental impact statement) and make a decision on the pipeline.”
“Given the length of time your administration has studied the Keystone XL pipeline and the public’s overwhelming support for it, you should not further delay a decision to issue a presidential permit,” the senators told Obama. “We therefore request that you issue the final (environmental impact statement) and presidential permit approving the pipeline as soon as possible and tell us when we can expect your decision.”
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Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., spearheaded the letter, which was delivered just days before Obama delivers his State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress. Even if Obama is unlikely to address Keystone XL in the speech, plenty of pipeline supporters would like him to.
The State Department is preparing a final environmental analysis of the pipeline, which would transport to 900,000 barrels a day of crude from Alberta, Canada to the oil hub in Cushing, Okla. There it would connect to TransCanada’s just-launched Gulf Coast line, which is now delivering supplies to southeast Texas.
But there’s been no clear signal when that environmental impact statement would be ready. Even when it is issued, a decision may still be a long way off, as the State Department would then have to decide whether Keystone XL is in the “national interest,” the public would have a chance t comment on the question and other agencies would get to weigh in.
Secretary of State John Kerry said last week that he hoped the final analysis would be ready soon, but added that the administration won’t be rushed into a decision.
“All the appropriate effort is being put into trying to get this done effectively and rapidly,” Kerry said.
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Although TransCanada first sought approval to build the border-crossing pipeline in September 2008, it changed the route and submitted a new application in May 2012.
The Republican senators said Obama said a presidential permit decision would be made by the end of 2013 during a meeting with them last March. And they noted that the State Department finished taking comments on its draft environmental statement last April — meaning it has spent nine months working on a final version.
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