Mark Pryor, Others Join Legislation for Keystone Pipeline Approval

by Lance Turner  on Thursday, Mar. 14, 2013 3:28 pm  

U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., on Thursday joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers supporting legislation he says would give Congress the authority to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

"The route has been approved and the studies have been completed," Pryor said in a news release. "The President has been sitting on this valuable opportunity for far too long. Our bill gives Congress the authority it needs to move forward with this vital project and create jobs here at home."

According to Pryor, the bill would approve the partially completed, 1,700-mile oil pipeline planned to run from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. Legislators claim the authority under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Pryor said the non-partisan Congressional Research Service confirmed Congress' constitutional authority last year to approve the project.

Leading the bill are Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Max Baucus, D-Mont., two Senators who from states through which the pipeline runs.

The pipeline does not run through Arkansas. But pipe for the project was manufactured by Welspun Pipes' plant in the Port of Little Rock.

State Department approval is needed because the $7 billion pipeline crosses a U.S. border. The Obama administration has delayed approval of the project citing environmental concerns. The delay has become a political point of contention between President Obama and Republicans, as well as many Democrats, who see the project as a job creator.

Inflated Numbers

According to Republicans who attended a closed-door meeting with Obama on Wednesday, Obama said jobs numbers and other benefits touted by supporters of pipeline are probably exaggerated. But Obama did not rule out a decision to approve the project, participants said.

Obama told Republicans at the Capitol that he's still weighing a decision on the pipeline.

Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., said Obama appeared "conflicted" on the pipeline, saying that many of the promised jobs would be temporary and that much of the oil produced likely would be exported.

But Terry said Obama also indicated that dire environmental consequences predicted by pipeline opponents were exaggerated.

"He said there were no permanent jobs, and that the oil will be put on ships and exported and that the only ones who are going to get wealthy are the Canadians," Terry said.



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