WASHINGTON Feb 11 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
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
"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
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,"
On Tuesday, the League published a guide to lawmakers' votes
on environmental legislation as well as other conservation
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 recent days.
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 CREDO Action.
"Senator Hoeven can send a letter to the White House every
day, but that is not going to be what sways this decision," said