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Rampton reports: "A bipartisan group of senators on Friday urged President Barack Obama to quickly issue a permit for the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline."

President Barack Obama in Tucson, Arizona, 01/12/11. (photo: Jewel Samad/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama in Tucson, Arizona, 01/12/11. (photo: Jewel Samad/Getty Images)

Senators Turn Up Pressure on Obama to Approve Keystone Pipeline

By Roberta Rampton, Reuters

18 November 12


bipartisan group of senators on Friday urged President Barack Obama to quickly issue a permit for the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project environmental groups have vowed to keep fighting.

The senators - nine Democrats and nine Republicans - asked Obama to approve the pipeline because it will create jobs and reduce the need for oil from the Middle East. They were led by Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat and powerful chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and John Hoeven, a North Dakota Republican. Both senators represent the booming Bakken oil region.

The pipeline is designed to carry oil from Canada and the Bakken formation and last year, Obama put it on hold citing environmental concerns with a portion of the route in Nebraska. The TransCanada Corp project needs a presidential permit because it would cross an international border.

Nebraska's state government could wrap up its work examining a new route by the end of the year. The State Department is working on a review that the senators hope will affirm the project is in the national interest.

The senators urged Obama to issue a permit for the project "immediately afterward."

"Setting politics aside: nothing has changed about the thousands of jobs that Keystone XL will create," the senators said in a letter to be sent on Friday.

"Nothing has changed about the security to be gained from using more fuel produced at home and by a close and stable ally. And nothing has changed about the need for America to remain a place where businesses can still build things," they said.

The pipeline was designed to extend 1,661 miles to the Port Arthur, Texas, area from Hardisty, Alberta, moving 830,000 barrels of oil per day.

The southern leg of the line - from Cushing, Oklahoma to Texas refineries - did not need a special permit and work has already begun on that part.


The senators' letter comes just ahead of a large protest against the pipeline planned for the White House on Sunday by environmental groups.

Last year, similar protests drew thousands of people, and some 1,200 opponents were arrested. The protests were credited with slowing the State Department's review of what once was thought to be a routine regulatory approval.

"Keystone XL is still a crazy idea, a giant straw into the second biggest pool of carbon," said a coalition including, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace US, and Friends of the Earth, urging its members to attend.

"No one needs to get arrested this time — though that may come as the winter wears on. For now we simply need to let the president know we haven't forgotten, and that our conviction hasn't cooled," the groups said.

The timing and design of the senators' letter is aimed at reminding Obama of public support for the project, Hoeven said in an interview.

"We're concerned that the last time opponents demonstrated around the White House, at a time when it looked like State was ready to approve the project, the administration deferred it," Hoeven said.


Congress has repeatedly pushed Obama to approve the project. Last December, Republicans inserted language in a payroll tax cut bill giving Obama a 60-day deadline to make a decision.

In January, he ruled the administration needed more time to evaluate a change in the route through Nebraska, aimed at avoiding a sensitive environmental region.

Republicans accused him of playing to the environmental movement ahead of the election. In Congress, proponents pushed to override Obama's call and approve the pipeline themselves, but a vote in the Senate fell four votes short of passage.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney raised the issue as gasoline prices surged, pledging he would approve the pipeline on his first day in office.

Obama has said he supports the jobs created by the U.S. boom in oil production, and backed the southern leg of the project earlier this year. But he has also pledged to address climate change, which environmental groups argue would be accelerated by more development of Canada's oil sands.

Both green groups and the oil industry see Obama's pipeline decision as a test of his political priorities.

"I really feel if he doesn't approve it, that would just create more momentum in the Congress for us to approve it ourselves," said Hoeven, who championed last year's close vote in the Senate to fast-track the pipeline.


Analysts have said they think Obama eventually will approve the pipeline but the timing of the decision is in question.

"Approval will not be quick," Moody's credit rating agency said in an outlook for investors earlier this week.

Republican Representative Lee Terry also wrote Obama on Friday, saying he is worried additional delays by the State Department could lead Canada to look for other oil buyers.

"Will the United States be a partner and recipient or will the vast majority of the resource be sold to China or some other country," said Terry, a Nebraskan who led efforts in the House of Representatives to fast-track the pipeline.

Nebraska's Department of Environmental Quality is wrapping up its review with a public meeting on December 4. Governor Dave Heineman must then approve the project, something oil industry groups said expect by early January.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department, which oversees the administration's review, is preparing a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS).

"When the SEIS is completed in draft form, we will release it for public comment consistent with NEPA," the National Environmental Policy Act, said a State Department official, who did not say how long the comment period would be.

The report will help the State Department determine whether the project is in the national interest, a decision it makes in consultation with other administration officials, considering issues such as climate change concerns and jobs.

The State Department has said it does not anticipate concluding its work before the first quarter of 2013. your social media marketing partner


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+52 # MainStreetMentor 2012-11-18 16:34
NO! No Keystone pipeline!
+11 # DPM 2012-11-18 23:12
The oil is to be exported. It is not for domestic consumption. It is all about oil company profits and donations (payoffs) to politicians. But, Obama will o.k. the permit. Not because it is the right thing to do, but because it is the profitable thing to do. Not for the many...just for the few. As always.
+13 # MargieDee 2012-11-18 23:36
It is my understanding that President Obama still does not have all the information needed to move forward on the XL Pipeline project. I am somewhat puzzled about the Republican Governor of Nebraska's formal, written request to Pres. Obama, asking that the XL pipeline NOT to go through Nebraska. Oddly, Governor David Heineman has never discussed, publicly, that he wrote this letter to Pres. Obama. On the news, we get the impression that only the Left Wing is concerned about "fracking" the oil sands.

Nebraska is situated right over a huge aquifer that is much needed by Nebraska and neighboring states, and the XL pipeline puts this clean water in jeopardy. Even Canada is questioning whether "fracking" is wise decision. Hundreds of gallons of clean water are used to "frack", and that water then contains dangerous toxins after use in the fracking process.

The website below offers various perspectives on this topic. It is far more complicated than many would lead us to believe. Holding up the XL pipeline is not just a "left-wing conspiracy;" many well-informed environmentalis ts and state government representatives , from all political parties. are truly and deeply concerned about the disastrous implications of "fracking" for oil.
+27 # Street Level 2012-11-18 23:51
This is the President's remedy to getting us of foreign oil? This won't begin to create the amount of jobs they're trying to sell us and the dirty oil will be largely for exports.
The Canadians don't even want this monstrosity in their country. Heaven forbid they sully their own lands or waters. Time to say NO, and loudly.
+27 # Michael_K 2012-11-19 00:07
The claim that this oil would be refined in Texas and then distributed for sale and use in the US is a fraud on the public. The oil is marked for export.
+12 # Jude 2012-11-19 01:44
I guess we’ll soon see what your President Obama is made of. The Keystone pipeline is status quo DUMB. It is dangerous to the environment at source, where the tar sands emit CO2 and pollute vast areas, and in transit, when the diluted bitumen it will transport for processing leaks as it inevitably will. It cannot be cleaned up--ask the people in Kalamazoo. The number of permanent jobs it would create is virtually negligible, the extravagant claims of the company notwithstanding . And once it is processed in Texas, it will be exported offshore, so why these Senators are claiming it will make the US less dependent on offshore oil is highly questionable. Perhaps it has something to do with who they are beholden to for campaign financing. If President Obama caves to them, he is one of them. If he acts sanely for the environment and people, he is an honest and courageous man. Which will we see?
0 # Michael_K 2012-11-21 01:13
Quoting Jude:
I guess we’ll soon see what your President Obama is made of.

Are you saying you don't know already that he is in Big Oil's pocket? Wasn't his first term enough of a clue?
+17 # nancyw 2012-11-19 02:04
SAY NO!!! NO NO NO! Don't give in to greed and the lack of foresight as to the consequences of a pipeline.

Pipelines have destroyed whole villages, their waterways, their farmland, their forests in Southeast Asia and beyond.

+12 # grouchy 2012-11-19 03:28
I think from the very start, the fix has been in. It's just a matter of putting on the right dress with the proper color plus the appropriate ribbons as trim and a bit more time, and then it's a go!
+12 # jackdresser 2012-11-19 03:54
Some two dozen computer projections of climate change by the world's leading climate scientists show that we are nearing the "tipping point" beyond which desertification of arable land for agriculture will gravely imperil the survival of humanity.

New employment must come from earth restoration work: development of solar, wind, geothermal, tidal and wave energy technology that will easily replace and surpass all hydrocarbon sources, a national high-speed rail system to reduce air travel and truck transportation, reforestation of the continent to increase carbon sequestration, desalinization plants to provide water to coastal cities and relieve pressure on declining rivers and aquifers, and development of self-sustaqinin g local economies.

Hydrocarbons must be left in the earth rather than transferred to our atmosphere, and nuclear energy must be confined to the sun - the only place it is safe for humans.
+15 # Vardoz 2012-11-19 08:42
As Jane Mayer wrote in the New Yorker, " The XL pipeline will mean game over for the planet."
+15 # Billy Bob 2012-11-19 10:25
"The senators - nine Democrats and nine Republicans - asked Obama to approve the pipeline because it will create jobs and reduce the need for oil from the Middle East."

You know what else would do that? WIND and SOLAR!

AND with the added benefit of not poisoning our nation.
+8 # AMLLLLL 2012-11-19 10:57
I wonder if it would be possible to mail each Senator a sample of the bitumen that is created to transport this sludge. Just take the sample from a creek; it shouldn't be too hard to find with and average leak per month...let them see up close what it's made of.
+7 # tbcrawford 2012-11-19 12:58
If there ever was a case of deja vu, check out the documentary on the Dust Bowl. It's chilling, and throughout, a reminder that we're repeating history. What are the "Tar Sands", source of this poisonous "oil", where does the pipeline run, where will it end up, and who will use it. Add to this analysis, a good description of the actual "oil" and what will be needed to make it usable (for cars, heating, manufacturing (pesticides, generation of other energy). As for the Jobs, oh my, where have I heard that hoax... get specific.

THEN, write up a second analysis of alternative uses of the billions proposed to repeat our past behavior...and don't forget to provide an estimate for "clean-up activity"...esp ecially when a huge aquifer lies under the proposed site for this devastation. Might consider the related expenses besides environmental destruction: health, lives ruined by eminent domaine, loss of other jobs...and on and on. "Oh beautiful for spacious skies...Memorie s"
+8 # engelbach 2012-11-19 14:28
The senators - nine Democrats and nine Republicans - asked Obama to approve the pipeline because it will create jobs and reduce the need for oil from the Middle East. They were led by Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat and powerful chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and John Hoeven, a North Dakota Republican. Both senators represent the booming Bakken oil region.


Ah, yes. Max Baucus, the so-called Democrat who sold out single-payer healthcare. And now stands to get huge kickbacks from this boondoggle.

As usual, it is supported by lies. It will generate very few new jobs, pose a danger to the environment, and not lower the price of gas by one penny.

Will obama approve it because he believes the lies of those SOBs? No, he knows damn well that they're lying. He'll approve it because there's something in it for him.

The Bushes and Romneys of the world are the evil that we know. The Obamas of the world are the false friends with honeyed words who stab us in the back.

Labor Party 2016.
+8 # aitengri 2012-11-19 15:05
The comments here have covered all the angles. Just want to call attention to the not-so=hidden rhetoric of the pseudo 'bipartisan" argument. It sounds so balanced, "8 dems and 8 repubs." They think its right up the president's alley (not). Hope he is able to use the truths about the environment, the technology, and the ultimate costs to shoot this pseudo "cooperation" down.
0 # bdeja 2012-11-21 07:55
It would be so anti environment and absurd were the President to approve the horrific and non-Progressive Keystone Pipeline.

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