U.S. Sens. John Hoeven, N.D., and Max Baucus, Mont., garnered the support of a bipartisan group of 53 U.S. senators in signing a Jan. 23 letter to President Obama urging the president to expedite approval of the Keystone XL pipeline on the heels of Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman’s recent endorsement of the pipeline following a favorable environmental review of the pipeline’s revised route through that state.
“Nebraska recently approved a new Keystone XL Pipeline route. Four and a half years after TransCanada first applied for a Presidential Permit, and a year since you denied their original request, the project still awaits your approval,” began the letter, signed by 44 Republicans and nine Democrats. “Nebraska has now addressed the outstanding concerns you raised when you denied the permit, and we therefore urge you to finish expeditiously the review process and approve the pipeline.”
Because the project crosses an international border, the State Department has to approve the project, and the Obama administration denied approval of the pipeline over environmental concerns associated with the pipelines initial route through the Sand Hills region of Nebraska.
But a new route has been selected and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality determined the new route poses minimal environmental impact.
With Heineman’s stamp of approval, the group of senators wants the president to quickly approve the pipeline.
“Some constituencies have called on you to deny the pipeline and the jobs and energy security associated with it,” the letter continued. “Because the pipeline has gone through the most exhaustive environmental scrutiny of any pipeline in the history of this country, and you already determined that oil from Canada is in the national interest, there is no reason to deny or further delay this long-studied project.”
North Dakota’s U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp also signed the letter. Montana U.S. Sen. Jon Tester’s signature was not on the letter, but Tester is on record as supporting the project.