* House committee to vote on bill on Tuesday
* Lawmakers plan to add measure to highway package
By Ayesha Rascoe
WASHINGTON, Feb 3 Republican
lawmakers hope to move one step closer next week to linking
a measure approving the controversial Canada-to-Texas Keystone
XL oil pipeline to a highway funding bill.
The House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee
will vote on Tuesday on a bill that would transfer permitting
authority over TransCanada's planned pipeline to the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and direct the commission
to approve the project within 30 days.
"It's time for Congress to take this decision out of the
president's hands and take the politics out of a commonsense
pipeline that will bring economic and energy security," Fred
Upton, chairman of the energy committee, said in a statement.
House lawmakers plan to wrap the Keystone bill into a
package that includes funding for highways and infrastructure, a
move certain to face stiff opposition from Democrats in the
Senate and the White House.
The 1,700-mile (2,720-km) Keystone pipeline has become a
rallying point for Republicans this election year as they blast
the Obama administration for delaying the project that they say
will create jobs and boost U.S. energy security.
Republicans attached a measure setting a deadline for a
decision on the pipeline to last year's payroll tax cut bill,
but President Barack Obama last month rejected the
pipeline permit in response, forcing TransCanada to resubmit its
The Obama administration said it needs more time to consider
alternative routes for the project after concerns were raised
the pipeline could harm a sensitive aquifer in Nebraska.
Environmentalists have staunchly opposed the project, saying
that carbon-spewing oil sands production in Canada
will exacerbate climate change.