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Murkowski, Hoeven, Baucus, Bipartisan Group of Senators Call on President to Approve Keystone after Approval by Nebraska

WASHINGTONSenators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators today sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to approve the Keystone XL pipeline following Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman’s approval of the route through Nebraska Tuesday. In one day’s time, the letter gained 53 signatures, a majority of the U.S. Senate.

          Senators in addition to Murkowski, Hoeven and Baucus who attended the news conference include, Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), David Vitter (R-La.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).

          Following is the full text of the letter:

Dear Mr. President:

          “Nebraska recently approved a new Keystone XL Pipeline route. Four and a half years after TransCanada first applied for a Presidential Permit, and a year since you denied their original request, the project still awaits your approval. Nebraska has now addressed the outstanding concerns you raised when you denied the permit, and we therefore urge you to finish expeditiously the review process and approve the pipeline. 

            Specifically, the new pipeline route in Nebraska avoids the Sand Hills, which you cited as a concern in your denial.  The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality determined the pipeline would have minimal environmental impact and would generate significant economic benefits in the state of Nebraska. This is on top of the thousands of good-paying union jobs and millions of dollars in economic development for our country as a whole, none of which cost any taxpayer money.  The pipeline is also a major step toward American energy security.  Canada plans to develop this oil resource and the only question is whether we receive the oil from our friend and ally or whether Canada is forced to look for new partners in Asia because we turned them away.

            On March 22, 2012, you directed federal agencies to accelerate approval of vital energy infrastructure projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline.  We strongly urge you to direct the State Department to accelerate the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) and quickly complete the National Interest Determination. 

This should be able to be done quickly since your administration has previously made a National Interest Determination on the same key factors relevant to Keystone XL.  In 2009, with respect to the Alberta Clipper Pipeline, the State Department ‘found that the addition of crude oil pipeline capacity between Canada and the United States will advance a number of strategic interests of the United States. These included increasing the diversity of available supplies among the United States’ worldwide crude oil sources in a time of considerable political tension in other major oil producing countries and regions; shortening the transportation pathway for crude oil supplies; and increasing crude oil supplies from a major non-Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries producer. Canada is a stable and reliable ally and trading partner of the United States, with which we have free trade agreements which augment the security of this energy supply.’

            “The factors supporting the National Interest Determination in 2009 are just as relevant today.  Some constituencies have called on you to deny the pipeline and the jobs and energy security associated with it.  Because the pipeline has gone through the most exhaustive environmental scrutiny of any pipeline in the history of this country, and you already determined that oil from Canada is in the national interest, there is no reason to deny or further delay this long-studied project.  

“We ask you not to move the goalposts as opponents of this project have pressed you to do. We urge you to choose jobs, economic development and American energy security.  It is vital for the country that you promptly finalize the SEIS and the National Interest Determination and approve the pipeline.    

          “The State Department has said that it would issue the final SEIS before the end of the first quarter of 2013.  After four and a half years of study, we urge you to stick to your deadlines.  The American people need a timely decision on the Presidential Permit.

          “Thank you for your consideration.”

In November, Baucus and Hoeven organized a bipartisan letter signed by 18 senators, nine Republicans and nine Democrats, calling on the president to approve the Keystone XL project once Nebraska’s concerns were addressed. They also asked to meet with the president to discuss the project, but to date they are still awaiting a response from the White House.

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