WASHINGTON Republican Senator John Hoeven is set to introduce legislation on Monday seeking to bypass President Barack Obama and empower Congress to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, an aide said on Friday.
Obama put TransCanada's $7 billion Canada-to-Texas pipeline on ice last week, saying that the administration needed more time to review its environmental impacts.
Hoeven's bill would seek to put Congress effectively in control of the pipeline decision and take it away from the Obama administration.
But any such measure faces the steep hurdle of having to be approved by the Democratic-controlled Senate. And even if it did, it would have to be signed by the president in order to become law.
Environmentalists pushed for Obama to block the 1,700-mile (2,735-km) pipeline. They loathe the idea of increasing the flow of oil sands crude from Canada because of its bigger carbon footprint in the mining process.
Republicans say the pipeline would create jobs but environmentalists say the job-creation claims are inflated.
"We've been working with (the Republican) leadership in the Senate and all our colleagues, and we believe Senator Hoeven's bill has support from a lot of people in the Senate," said Ryan Bernstein, an energy advisor to Hoeven.
Bernstein declined to elaborate on how many other senators have signed on to sponsor the bill.
Republicans have made the pipeline and its construction jobs a key political issue in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election.
Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives also are considering legislation to advance the project, and have not ruled out attaching it to payroll tax cut legislation that needs to pass Congress by the end of February.
On the Senate side, the route for Keystone to advance to a vote is not yet clear.
"We'll introduce it and I'm sure we'll be looking at all options," Bernstein told Reuters.
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Sandra Maler and Christopher Wilson)