[February 12, 2014]WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Dozens of
Republican senators on Tuesday called on the White House to approve the
Keystone XL pipeline as foes vowed to risk arrest at protests against
the controversial project.
President Barack Obama will have the final say on whether to allow
the pipeline that could deliver as much as 830,000 barrels per day
of Canadian oil sands crude to U.S. Gulf Coast refiners, a decision
not expected for many months.
Lawmakers who favor the plan are pushing the White House to approve
the project without further delay.
Keystone's backers argue that blocking pipelines will discourage
development of a region where oil is abundant, but is
carbon-intensive to produce.
But opponents argue that advanced drilling methods will inevitably
put vast reserves of oil sands crude within easy reach, no matter
whether the Keystone project is approved or not.
"There is no question that Canada will develop these resources,"
reads the letter signed by all 45 Republican senators, echoing a
State Department finding from late January.
"Rejecting the Keystone pipeline will cost thousands of American
jobs and prevent our country from accessing a large supply of North
American energy," said the letter authored by North Dakota
Republican John Hoeven.
The State Department concluded that the $5.4 billion, TransCanada
Corp pipeline will not unduly worsen climate change. But eight
different U.S. federal agencies will have a chance to weigh in on
the pipeline over the next three months.
Environmentalist foes of the project have challenged the State
Department findings that the pipeline would not spur oil sands
development or weigh on global warming.
The next several months should see a publicity blitz from opponents
and backers of the pipeline to shape public opinion ahead of any
decision, said Tiernan Sittenfeld, the chief lobbyist for the League
of Conservation Voters.
"For an issue like climate change that can feel abstract to some
people, the Keystone XL pipeline is something tangible," she said.
On Tuesday, the League published a guide to lawmakers' votes on
environmental legislation as well as other conservation matters.
Establishment environmental groups will continue to push the
Keystone issue in Washington, but other activists will make their
arguments on the street, according to Danielle Droitsch of the
Natural Resources Defense Council.
"We've been surprised by the number of spontaneous protests that
popped up after the State Department report," she said, describing
about 280 "vigils" against the pipeline that were organized in
Early next month, college students from across the country are
planning a march on the White House in a protest to discourage Obama
on the pipeline decision.
More than 75,000 Keystone foes have promised to face arrest if
called upon to protest the pipeline, according to activist group
"Senator Hoeven can send a letter to the White House every day, but
that is not going to be what sways this decision," said Sittenfeld.
(Reporting by Patrick Rucker; editing by G Crosse)