A House Republican introduced a bill Monday that would jump-start the Keystone XL Pipeline project if it were to be approved, a move likely to renew nationwide political debate.
The proposal stands little chance of passing in the Democrat-controlled Senate and Obama is not likely to sign it before November elections. However the project has backing from unions and polls suggest most Americans approve.
President Obama approved a southernmost U.S. leg of the project which leaves thousands of miles between it and the Canadian oil sources, which effectively halted progress on the proposed project, according to a Fox News report.
Now GOP Rep. Lee Terry is seeking approval for permitting constructing for the Canada-to-Nebraska stretch, the section that remains under federal review.
Because Obama has only approved the southern U.S. leg, Canada has hinted at finding new customers for their crude because the administration is blocking construction of the Nebraska leg.
The proposed pipeline project is roughly 2,000-miles-long and would create thousands of U.S. jobs. Crude oil from Canada and mineral-rich Western states would be pumped to refineries along the Gulf Coast of Texas when completed.
“All I am saying with my legislation is: Mr. President, please treat the northern portion of the pipeline in the same manner as you treated the southern portion,” Terry, R-Neb., said on Capitol Hill. “You praised the construction for the southern route but keep changing the rules for the part that crosses the border."
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and other Republicans argue that building TransCanada Corp.’s pipeline would generate much-needed jobs, including thousands of union jobs, and help the country become less dependent on foreign oil.
However Obama and other Democrats are siding with environmentalists, asking for additional studies.
“The Keystone XL pipeline is an element of the picture that we're focused on to address our energy problems,” said Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss.
After Obama approved a section of pipeline at the southernmost end of the project, the company submitted another application to avoid Nebraska’s environmentally sensitive Sandhills region.
Then, last month, Mr. Obama’s State Department called for a supplemental study, which likely means a decision will not be reached before the November elections.