53 senators urge approval of Keystone XL pipeline

2013-01-23T16:40:00Z 2013-06-25T17:48:19Z 53 senators urge approval of Keystone XL pipelineThe Associated Press The Associated Press
January 23, 2013 4:40 pm  • 

WASHINGTON — More than half the Senate on Wednesday urged quick approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, ramping up pressure on President Barack Obama to move ahead with the project just days after he promised in his inaugural address to respond vigorously to the threat of climate change.

A letter signed by 53 senators said Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman's approval of a revised route through his state puts the long-delayed project squarely in the president's hands.

"We urge you to choose jobs, economic development and American energy security," the letter said, adding that the pipeline "has gone through the most exhaustive environmental scrutiny of any pipeline" in U.S. history. The $7 billion project would carry oil from Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast.

"There is no reason to deny or further delay this long-studied project," said the letter, which was initiated by Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Max Baucus, D-Mont., and signed by 44 Republicans and nine Democrats. Another Democrat, Jon Tester of Montana, supports the pipeline but did not sign the letter.

At a news conference Wednesday, senators said the pipeline should be a key part of Obama's "all of the above" energy policy, in which he has expressed support for a range of energy sources from oil and natural gas to wind, solar and coal.

The Obama administration has twice thwarted the 1,700-mile pipeline, which Calgary-based TransCanada first proposed in late 2008. The State Department delayed the project in late 2011 after environmental groups and others raised concerns about a proposed route through environmentally sensitive land in Nebraska.

Under pressure from congressional Republicans to make a decision on the pipeline, President Barack Obama blocked it in January 2012, saying his concerns about the Nebraska route had not been resolved. TransCanada submitted a new application last spring.

The State Department said Tuesday it does not expect to complete a review of the project before the end of March. The State Department has jurisdiction over the pipeline because it crosses a U.S. border.

The renewed focus on the pipeline comes as Obama pledged during his inaugural address to respond to the threat of global warming. Environmental groups and some Democratic lawmakers argue that approving the pipeline would directly contradict that promise.

"If we are going to get serious about climate change, opening the spigot to a pipeline that will export up to 830,000 barrels of the dirtiest oil on the planet to foreign markets stands as a bad idea," said Anthony Swift of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The pipeline would carry heavy oil derived from tar sands in western Canada. The heat-intensive process uses more energy than traditional oil, producing more heat-trapping gases that contribute to global warming.

Environmental groups have been pressuring Obama to reject the pipeline, citing the oil's high "carbon footprint." They also worry about a possible spill.

At a news conference Wednesday, senators from both parties said the Nebraska decision leaves Obama with no other choice but to approve the pipeline, which would carry up to 800,000 barrels of oil a day from tar sands in western Canada to refineries in Houston and other Texas ports. The pipeline also would travel though Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.

"No more excuses. It's time to put people to work," Baucus said.

"Back home, we call this a no-brainer," added Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

Hoeven, of North Dakota, said the tar sands oil will be produced whether or not the U.S. approves the project. "Our choice is, the oil comes to us or it's going to China," he said.

Nebraska's approval of the pipeline means all six states along the proposed route now support the project, said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Majorities in the House and Senate also have endorsed the pipeline. National polls repeatedly show a majority of Americans back the project.

Boehner said he recognizes the political pressure Obama faces from environmental groups and other opponents, but said "with our energy security at stake and many jobs in limbo, he should find a way to say yes."

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday that the State Department was reviewing the project and he did not want to "get ahead of that process."

Once that review is completed, "we'll obviously address that issue," Carney said.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State nominee John Kerry said he plans to divest holdings in dozens of companies in his family's vast financial portfolio to avoid conflicts of interest if he is confirmed by the Senate.

Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, said he would not take part in any decisions that could affect the companies he has holdings in until those investments are sold off. Among the investments are holdings in two Canadian companies, Suncor and Cenovus Energy Inc., both of which have publicly supported the Keystone XL pipeline. Kerry's investments are in family trusts.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(15) Comments

  1. John Bolenbaugh
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    John Bolenbaugh - February 01, 2013 12:02 am
    These guys trying to push the XL pipeline through are lying to all of you. Go to HELPPA.org to see the tar sand truth. China owns most of Transcanada and China wants to get this oil to the coast so they can get it to them. They dont care about us or our environment. i work for oil companies and my entire family is working on the lower part of the XL line right now. Americans are being lied to. Dont listen to them.

    HELPPA.org is video proof
  2. DAVIDinWA
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    DAVIDinWA - January 31, 2013 11:52 am
    Does your senator take money from Koch? Find out here: http://dirtyenergymoney.com/view.php?searchvalue=koch+industries&com=&can=&zip=&search=1&type=search#view=connections
  3. Abraham
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    Abraham - January 25, 2013 5:46 am
    I hope you aren't banking on those jobs, most of the pipeline companies have crews that travel with them, and the welders are all from Oklahoma or Texas and are individual contractors with ongoing contracts with the companies, if you wanted to see a good old boy club it is the pipeline companies.
  4. ReadySetGo
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    ReadySetGo - January 24, 2013 6:29 pm
    Jon is just being Jon. Tool to the special interest environmental groups in Montana.
  5. flowergal
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    flowergal - January 24, 2013 1:40 pm
    If this maze of verbiage was intended to fool the masses, it succeeded brilliantly.

    Koch Industries are only a cog in American/global commerce, and are a target of the blind.

    Do you really expect John Kerry to divest himself of 'his' variety of holdings if Secy. of State, when he hasn't paid sales tax on his yacht that's parked out of Massachusetts? Do you really think his money is his, and not the property of the widow of Heinz ketchup, etc?

    Warren Buffett isn't interested in a pipeline anywhere, because he owns the railroads. Baucus behind Hoeven: another tail-wagging-the-dog moment.

    O is simply practicing the leadership he doesn't want to be responsible for by tossing the pipeline back to Hillary the harridan. He's banking the pay-off for now.
  6. Skeptic
    Report Abuse
    Skeptic - January 24, 2013 12:33 pm
    Very interesting comment.

    Have you thought about adult education? It's never too late.
  7. Skeptic
    Report Abuse
    Skeptic - January 24, 2013 12:32 pm
    Perhaps like your attention span, the "jobs" brought by the XL pipeline will be very short term and far fewer than the P.R. for the AGW climate denialist supporting Koch brothers has presented.

    Sarcasm is most definitely intended.
  8. Skeptic
    Report Abuse
    Skeptic - January 24, 2013 12:30 pm
    The process of extracting a marginally refinable product from tar sands oil is incredibly dirty, in terms of atmospheric pollution and water contamination. It consumes an immense amount of natural gas. I expect you know all this, but are pretending you don't to try to make a point that is not in the best interest of the public.

    Your concerns about ethanol production have some legitimacy, but you miss some of the worst aspects. That includes hugely increasing the price of food that is being often grown with rapidly declining post-Pleistocene aquifer water, encouraging monoculture, etc., all of which are also against the long term interests of the public.

    I want a better life and environment for my great grandchildren. I'm guessing you want a bigger check this month.
  9. Skeptic
    Report Abuse
    Skeptic - January 24, 2013 12:23 pm
    I expect we'll find out.

    Please note that the "R"s "are dancing with them that brought them." All but one Republican senator signed on to the letter, and the majority are either deep in the Koch brothers' pocket, or are afraid to buck them. The Kochs just spent a bundle on a Tea Party Senator, Deb Fisher, to get her elected in Nebraska over a far more experienced and decent candidate, Bob Kerrey. She has absolute contempt for environmental issues.
  10. Skeptic
    Report Abuse
    Skeptic - January 24, 2013 12:19 pm
    You're right. The XL pipeline is primarily concerned with connecting the Koch brothers tar sands refinery in Hardisty, Alberta, with their Port Arthur refinery in Texas. They are using eminent domain to take land from property owners along the route from Cushing, OK to Port Arthur. The Port Arthur refinery exports gasoline and other finished petroleum products to other countries. That means they can also move their profits overseas.

    Your question about mixing sweet crude and the immensely abrasive tar sands oil product is very germane. It cuts the life of the pipeline, increases the chance of spills, and I would assume could not be mixed with a very different grade of crude.
  11. fidlr
    Report Abuse
    fidlr - January 24, 2013 9:23 am
    Building the pipeline would certainly produce many good MT jobs while it is being built. I still have concerns that the U.S. consumer would not see any of the products from these refineries as all those products would be shipped overseas. Some reports have said that the pipeline would also ship Bakken and MT crude as well. Can anyone explain how the dirty tar sands crude and sweet crude can be transported over the same line? I don't have great opposition to Keystone, but I would be more supportive if I thought US drivers would benefit from the gas & diesel that would be refined.
  12. VCSORD1
    Report Abuse
    VCSORD1 - January 24, 2013 8:32 am
    So Tester supports it, but didn't sign the letter. How does that work?
  13. End Daze
    Report Abuse
    End Daze - January 24, 2013 7:11 am
    Tester is no turn coat. He's fully in keeping with his past actions and positions. He and Baucus just have campaign rhetoric. People who don't get that don't get many things in life I'm sure.
    I don't know why the environmentalists get a pass on having to make sense. The pipeline is by far the safest and least carbon consuming means of transporting anything. Make them answer that!!! Also, the quote -- "The heat-intensive process uses more energy than traditional oil, producing more heat-trapping gases that contribute to global warming" -- makes me wonder why they don't care about that fact as it applies to ethanol and wind energy which CONSUME more fossil-fuel fired energy than the "alternative" energy produced. PLEASE ANSWER SOME OF THESE QUESTIONS -- if it is true you aren't just trying to eliminate our standard of living and undermine our economy. These facts say you are also not really about reducing carbon footprints either.
  14. gunner1
    Report Abuse
    gunner1 - January 23, 2013 6:15 pm
    Bring it!!! We need the jobs and tax revenue.

    Way to take a stand, Tester. (sarcasm intended)
  15. Living Good
    Report Abuse
    Living Good - January 23, 2013 6:12 pm
    Jon Tester don't have the guts to sign it, what a turn coat.

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