GOP to Obama: 'Patience Running Thin' on Keystone Pipeline Delays

Friday, 24 Jan 2014 10:48 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Image: GOP to Obama: 'Patience Running Thin' on Keystone Pipeline Delays
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Frustrated Senate Republicans are turning up the heat on President Obama for a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, saying he's had plenty of time to examine the project aiming to carry crude from oil sands in Canada to Gulf refineries.

In a Friday letter signed by all 45 Senate Republicans, led by Sens. John Hoeven of North Dakota and John Barrasso of Wyoming, the lawmakers urged Obama to "not further delay a decision to issue a presidential permit," noting "the length of time your administration has studied the Keystone XL pipeline and the public's overwhelming support for it," The Hill reported.

"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."

But Republicans aren't the only ones exasperated by the lack of a decision on the project, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

"This has gone on way too long," North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp told the Journal. "I can tell you this, among those of us who've been waiting now for a considerable length of time, our patience is running thin."

Hoeven told The Hill he'd like an answer from Obama Tuesday in his State of the Union speech.

"We are really trying to put the pressure on," he said. "He seems to want to defeat the project by perpetually delaying it. Every time we have tried to make a prediction he has disappointed us and so that is why we have to force a decision.

"This is the kind of thing they should announce at the State of the Union. Patience is really wearing thin."

The Journal reported the State Department is aiming to release an environmental impact report on the proposed pipeline extension in February.

Then there would be a three-month review to determine if the project should get underway; Obama has warned he won't green-light the pipeline if carbon emissions were unacceptable, the Journal reported.

Given the timeline, Obama's decision could come right before the midterm.

The Hill noted that while vulnerable Democrats facing tough re-elections, like Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska and Mary Landreiu of Louisiana, would benefit from pipeline approval, Obama could lose the support of green activists.

Even if the president nixes the pipeline, Hoeven told The Hill he's ready to work around that — with the help of Democrats.

“We could have Congress approve it out-right,” Hoeven said. “Or we would put forward a joint resolution in Congress and Sen. Landrieu has promised to co-sponsor the effort. We could also put it on a bill where we would say 'hey, you have to make a decision in 90 days.’

“Which one we will press and which one we will attach it to would be determined by how many Democrats we can get on board. Right now we have about 10 to 12 Democrats."

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