Republicans Pressure Obama to Approve Keystone XL Oil Pipeline

| by Allison Geller

Senate Republicans have asked President Obama to come to a decision regaring the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which he had promised by the end of 2013.

Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and John Barrasso, R-Wyo., sent a letter to the White House on Friday asking for the president’s approval.

"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," the senators wrote. 

All 45 Republican senators signed the letter

"We are well into 2014 and you still have not made a decision," the senators reminded the president. Obama told Republicans during a March 2013 meeting that he would decide whether the pipeline project would go forward by the end of the year.

The pipelines would carry oil from tar sands in western Canada to refineries in the Gulf Coast. As it stands now, the oil is carried by freight, a dangerous method that has led to a number of recent accidents. One million gallons of crude oil spilled in railroad accidents last year, leading to a “major loss of life,” according to American and Canadian transport agencies.

“The continuing series of rail accidents reminds us that in evaluating whether to build more pipelines, human safety should be a paramount consideration,” Diana Furchtgott-Roth, an economist at the Manhattan Institute, told the Washington Times. “Road and rail have higher rates of serious incidents, injuries and fatalities than pipelines.”

TransCanada, the company responsible for the pipeline bid, has agreed to 57 voluntary safety measures in an effort to sway the administration.

"As we have said before, pipelines and rail continue to be complementary parts of the transportation equation, and the facts show that it is much safer to move large volumes of products, like oil, longer distances by pipeline," said Shawn Howard, a company spokesman.

The State Department is slated to release an environmental impact report on the project in early to mid February, according to the Wall Street Journal. While environmentalist oppose the measure, labor supporters believe it will create more jobs, splitting the Democrats and leaving President Obama in a political thicket.

Sources: Fox News, Washington Times, Wall Street Journal