White House: Bill to speed up pipeline review is 'unnecessary'

House lawmakers are slated to vote on the bill as early as Tuesday. It is expected to pass the chamber, but the bill faces roadblocks in the Senate.

Republicans and the oil industry have called on the administration to quickly approve the permit application for the Keystone XL project, which would carry oil sands from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

The project, they argue, would make the country less reliant on Middle Eastern oil and create thousands of jobs.

But some Democrats, as well environmental and public lands groups, have blasted the project, pointing to the danger of oil spills along the proposed route and raising concerns about the high greenhouse gas emissions that result from oil-sands production.

A recent oil spill at an ExxonMobil pipeline in Montana and a series of leaks at an existing TransCanada pipeline have exacerbated concerns about the Keystone XL project. TransCanada has said it will install technology at the pipeline to protect against spill.

The State Department is heading up a multi-agency review of the project. The department said late last week it would issue a final environmental impact statement (EIS) on the project next month. The final EIS is the latest in a multi-year process of reviewing the 1,700-mile proposed pipeline.

TransCanada filed its permit application with the State Department at the end of 2008. The department issued a draft environmental impact statement in April of 2010 and a supplemental environmental impact statement in April of 2011.