Supporters of TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s
Keystone XL oil pipeline stepped up their lobbying of President
Barack Obama, urging him to approve the project before the State
of the Union address in less than two weeks.
The American Petroleum Institute, a Washington-based group
for energy producers, joined 104 associations yesterday in
saying the project will “put thousands of Americans to work.”
Senator Richard Lugar, an Indiana Republican, said in a Jan. 6
letter to Obama that a delay will slow U.S. efforts to reduce
imports from nations such as Iran and Venezuela. Supporters are
seeking a decision before Obama speaks to Congress on Jan. 24.
“Republicans have an opportunity to frame it so the
question is asked immediately prior to the State of the Union
speech and Obama has to answer,” said Kevin Book, managing
director at ClearView Energy Partners LLC, a Washington-based
policy analysis firm. “Either the Republicans get to score an
unanswered point or they get their response.”
The proposed $7 billion pipeline has put Republicans in
Congress at odds with the Obama administration over jobs and the
environment. The 1,661-mile (2,673-kilometer) project, which
would carry 700,000 barrels of crude a day from Alberta’s oil
sands to U.S. Gulf of Mexico refineries, also has split two
Democratic constituencies, labor unions and advocates for the
Congress last month set a 60-day deadline for the U.S. to
issue a pipeline permit after the administration in November
said it would delay a decision to study an alternate route.
Republican presidential candidates may highlight the job-
creating aspect of the project at a Jan. 19 debate in South
Carolina. The primary vote is Jan. 21.
Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman, said he had no
update on the timing for a decision on the pipeline.
The lack of a plan for rerouting the pipeline in part of
Nebraska “underscores the difficulty of evaluating and
affirming this project within that 60-day window,” Earnest told
reporters traveling with Obama to Chicago yesterday.