SAN DIEGO — TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from landlocked Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast, is a “no-brainer” that would create jobs and bolster the economy, former President George W. Bush said on Tuesday.
The $7.6 billion Keystone XL line would generate private-sector employment and government revenue, he said at an American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers conference in San Diego. The U.S. government’s budget deficit is unsustainable and must be reduced by supporting industry, Bush said.
“The clear goal ought to be how to get the private sector to grow,” said Bush, who spoke during a luncheon at the conference. “If you say that, then an issue like the Keystone pipeline becomes an easy issue.”
President Barack Obama denied a U.S. State Department permit for the 1,661-mile pipeline in January because of concern that it posed risks to environmentally sensitive areas in Nebraska. Republican senators, including John Hoeven of North Dakota, vowed last week to try again to speed approval of the line after failing to round up enough Democratic support for an amendment that would have expedited the project.
The Senate failed today to adopt a separate amendment that Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas proposed to allow TransCanada to build the pipeline.
The Keystone line would create a new way to carry Canadian imports outside the Midwest and reduce an oil surplus that’s depressing prices in the central U.S. TransCanada, based in Calgary, would move 830,000 barrels of oil a day across the line from Hardisty, Alberta, to Nederland, Texas.
Last week, Senate Republicans vowed to try again to speed up approval of the pipeline after falling four votes short of rounding up enough Democratic support to expedite the project.
The GOP resolve increased on Thursday after the Democrat-led Senate narrowly rejected a Republican amendment to a transportation funding bill that would have fast-tracked the project. The measure, which received 56 votes in favor, failed because Senate rules require 60 votes to include the amendment.
Obama lobbied wavering Senate Democrats on the pipeline proposal before the vote. He urged them to reject the amendment, which would have overturned his decision to deny a permit for the pipeline until more environmental reviews are complete.
“If another vehicle pops up, expect a try to put it on there,” Mike McKenna, an oil industry lobbyist and president of MWR Strategies Inc. in Washington, said in an email. “Especially since a bunch of the Democrats are clearly caught in a bad position on it.”
Obama denied the U.S. State Department permit for the 1,661-mile pipeline in January. An amendment by Sen. John Hoeven, a North Dakota Republican, would have authorized construction of the project and deemed it in compliance with environmental regulations.
Republicans will seek “other opportunities” to push the Keystone pipeline, Hoeven said. “We’re very close to the 60” votes needed to pass the Senate, he told reporters in Washington after the vote.
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