Lawmakers Continue to Push for Keystone Pipeline Approval

Wednesday, 18 Sep 2013 02:00 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Fighting over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline will mark its fifth anniversary on Thursday as lawmakers continue to mull a bipartisan, non-binding resolution declaring the project's approval in the nation's best interest.

The resolution is cosponsored by North Dakota Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat, and John Hoeven, a Republican. Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana also is a chief co-sponsor.

Hoeven says the measure if passed would put the House and Senate on record as saying the pipeline project is tied to national security, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. Its approval, he says, also would increase pressure on President Barack Obama to sign off on it, something he has so far refused to do.

"If Congress can find it in the national interest using the abundance of favorable information that has accumulated over five years on the project, then surely the president can too," Hoeven told The Jamestown (N.D.) Sun, adding that it would help nation achieve energy independence.

A number of other efforts are underway in Congress to pressure the president, including a hearing Thursday before the House Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade subcommittee to mark the fifth anniversary of the pipeline project's proposal.

"Each day that goes by without Keystone XL's approval, the American economy and American workers lose," Republican Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska, who chairs the subcommittee, told USA Today.

The pipeline would carry crude oil from Canada's tar sands fields, which environmentalists complain would be turned into a "dirty" fuel that could increase global warming through greenhouse-gas emissions. Supporters say the project will bring much-needed jobs to the nation's heartland.

Heitkamp disputes the suggestion that oil from the Canadian tar sands is more harmful to the environment than crude from other sources. "This is not some rogue country that doesn't have . . . environmental standards," she said.

"We’ve been waiting for five years for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline," she said recently in remarks on the Senate floor in support of the bipartisan resolution. "We fought and defeated the Nazis in World War II in less time."

Bloomberg Businessweek also reported that the fifth anniversary marks one of the most-expensive and longest lobbying campaigns in congressional history. About $1 million has been spent on television advertising so far this year.

Keystone lobbying efforts totaled $16 million during last year's election.





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