* Key House panel to vote on adding Keystone to highway bill
* Terry does not rule out other plans to advance pipeline
By Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives will try to force quick approval of the Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL oil pipeline using a highway funding bill, but the plan’s author said on Monday there may be more than one avenue for advancing the project.
President Barack Obama’s administration blocked TransCanada’s $7 billion project last month.
A key House panel is set to vote on Tuesday to attach a plan to speed approval for the project into the highway bill, but a must-pass payroll tax cut legislation provides another option, said Lee Terry, a Republican from Nebraska.
“We’ll keep swinging,” Terry told reporters.
“Maybe we’ll use both.”
Terry’s plan is slated for a vote by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday. It would transfer authority for permitting the 1,700-mile (2,720-km) project to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and direct the commission to approve the project within 30 days.
At a hearing on Monday, John Dingell, a Democratic member of the committee, noted the bill was unlikely to be approved by the Democratic-controlled Senate, nor signed by Obama.
The Senate Finance Committee will vote on changes to the Senate version of the highway bill on Tuesday. Republican Orrin Hatch, a member of that panel, has floated an amendment that would approve Keystone.
Republicans in the Senate have introduced their own bill to push Keystone forward.
Obama delayed the pipeline last month, saying his administration needed more time to review its environmental impact in Nebraska. The state government is evaluating a new route after rejecting an initial plan that sent the line through a sensitive aquifer region.
Republicans want work on the rest of the pipeline to begin immediately because they believe it will create much-needed jobs and replace oil imports from the Middle East and Venezuela.
Some Democrats oppose the project because they believe production of the Alberta oil emits more climate-changing greenhouse gases than other types, and argue jobs estimates for the project are inflated.
Democratic Congressman Edward Markey said he will try to amend Terry’s bill on Tuesday to block exports of oil and refined fuels from the pipeline.
The pipeline would make the United States “a mere middleman between Alberta and Asia” instead of boosting U.S. energy security, Markey said.
Terry called that argument ”asinine.
“To sit there and say, because a couple percent (of total fuels produced from Alberta crude) may go overseas, that you want to shut down the whole pipeline, doesn’t make sense to me,” Terry told reporters.