Jan 24 2014
WASHINGTON – In advance of President Obama’s State of the Union Address, Senators John Hoeven of North Dakota and John Barrasso of Wyoming led a letter signed by all Republican Senators pressing President Obama to deliver an answer on the Keystone XL pipeline. Hoeven has been at the forefront of the Senate effort to secure approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, with two majority votes in the Senate and several bipartisan letters to the president.
In 2011, Congress passed legislation requiring the president to issue a decision on the project within 60 days. In response, the president cited environmental concerns in Nebraska in delaying the project. In March 2012, 56 senators voted to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project using congressional authority. With two Republican members missing, the measure was shy of passing by just two votes.
In March 2013, the same month the president said he would make a decision on Keystone XL by the end of 2013, Senators Hoeven, Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Barrasso and others introduced a measure establishing a formal recognition by the U.S. Senate that the Keystone XL pipeline will benefit the nation. It passed with a bipartisan majority vote of 62 to 37. An alternative bill designed to derail the project failed, 33 to 66.
Again last fall, Hoeven, Barrasso and a bipartisan group of senators authored a concurrent resolution declaring the Keystone XL pipeline project in the national interest and calling on President Obama to approve it. The resolution notes that every study conducted by the State Department, including the most recent draft Environmental Impact Statement issued in May 2013, has found that no significant impacts to the environment would result and that greenhouse gas emissions would be minimal.
The full text of the senators’ letter follows:
Dear Mr. President:
We have started yet another calendar year with no decision from your administration on the Keystone XL pipeline. TransCanada filed the original application for a Presidential Permit in 2008, and we are still waiting on the Department of State to issue a final environmental impact statement (EIS) for this project.
On March 14, 2013, at a meeting with Senate Republicans, you were asked when we could expect a final decision on the Keystone XL pipeline. At that time, you told us that a decision on the Presidential Permit would be made before the end of the year. We are well into 2014 and you still have not made a decision.
We need a safe and efficient system to transport crude oil in this country. The Keystone XL pipeline is a vital piece of the puzzle. The entire project is a $7 billion, 1,700-mile, high-tech transcontinental pipeline. It would create a significant number of private-sector jobs without any cost to American taxpayers. Your own Department of State has estimated that the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline could support 42,000 jobs across the country.
On January 22, 2013, the State of Nebraska approved a modified route for the Keystone XL pipeline. The Department of State then closed its comment period on the draft supplemental EIS on April 22, 2013—notably, a year after you personally directed Federal agencies to make more “timely” decisions on infrastructure projects. Your administration has had more than enough time to issue a final EIS and make a decision on the pipeline.
Given the length of time your administration has studied the Keystone XL pipeline and the public’s overwhelming support for it, you should not further delay a decision to issue a Presidential Permit. We, therefore, request that you issue the final EIS and Presidential Permit approving the pipeline as soon as possible and tell us when we can expect your decision.
Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to your prompt response.