Senate Dems advocate for Keystone XL

Apr 10, 2014

A group of 11 Democratic U.S. senators have urged President Barack Obama to approve TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline project. The senators, five of whom are seeking re-election this November, also suggested that Obama make a decision by May 31.

“This process has been exhaustive in its time, breadth, and scope,” the Democrats wrote in a letter sent to Obama on April 10. “It has already taken much longer than anyone can reasonably justify. This is an international project that will provide our great friend and ally, Canada, a direct route to our refineries.”

Senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Warner of Virginia, all seeking re-election, signed the letter, according to reports by Bloomberg News and The Wall Street Journal. All have consistently supported TransCanada’s project.

“This decision must not drag on into the summer,” the letter states. Democratic Senators Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Jon Tester and John Walsh, both of Montana, also signed the statement.

The letter cited a February 2014 State Department report that said Keystone XL, which would move tar sands crude from Canada to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, wouldn’t significantly contribute to climate change because the oil would be produced even if the project weren’t built.

Environmentalists dispute the review’s finding, saying Keystone XL is central to development of Alberta’s tar sands. Critics of the project have cited concerns with tar sands crude as a fuel source, including the intensive extraction process, transport hazards and the overall contribution of the product’s use to greenhouse gas emissions.

The southern leg of the Keystone XL project, which runs from central Oklahoma to the Texas coast, is already operational. The pipeline was completed in late 2013 and went online in January 2014.

The Texas Supreme Court published a statement on March 21 saying it would not review the decision issued by an appellate court in August 2013 ruling that TransCanada met the state’s criteria necessary for appropriation of private land through eminent domain.

The northern leg of the project, which would run from Alberta, Canada, to southeastern Nebraska, requires federal approval because it crosses an international border.

In February, a Nebraska judge ruled a state law to allowing the project’s construction to be built was unconstitutional. TransCanada has said it believes it will be able to build the pipeline despite the ruling.