Senate GOP says Obama's had enough time on Keystone

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Senate Republicans are pressing President Obama to make a decision quickly on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

The letter sent to Obama on Friday lays out the history of the project, stating that Obama has had "more than enough time" to review the TransCanada oil-sands pipeline.

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"Given the length of time your administration has studied the Keystone XL pipeline and the public’s overwhelming support for it, you should not further delay a decision to issue a presidential permit," states the letter, which was spearheaded by Sens. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and John  Barrasso (R-Wyo.).

Every one of the Senate's 45 Republicans signed the letter. 

"We, therefore, request that you issue the final [Environmental Impact Statement] and Presidential Permit approving the pipeline as soon as possible and tell us when we can expect your decision," it said.

While the letter doesn't ask Obama to make a decision by his State of the Union address next week, Hoeven told The Hill he would love to get a response from Obama in the speech.

"We are really trying to put the pressure on," Hoeven said. "He seems to want to defeat the project by perpetually delaying it. Every time we have tried to make a prediction he has disappointed us and so that is why we have to force a decision.

"This is the kind of thing they should announce at the State of the Union. Patience is really wearing thin," Hoeven added.

A decision may come in the next few months, as the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that the State Department is aiming to release its environmental review sometime in February.

Obama has said he would not approve the pipeline — which would carry crude from oil sands in Alberta, Canada to Gulf refineries — if it “significantly exacerbated” carbon emissions.

Once State releases its environmental analysis, another 3-month review to determine whether the pipeline is in the nation's best interest will get underway. Federal agencies will have roughly 90 days to comment on the second review.

That means Obama would be able to make a final decision at the earliest by May or June — just months away from the midterm elections, which could put the White House in a bit of a predicament.

While vulnerable Democrats that face reelection like Sens. Mark Begich (Alaska) and Mary Landreiu (La.) may profit from a stamp of approval on the pipeline, the White House risks alienating green activists that are a part of Obama’s base.

Driving out base voters is always a key to winning midterm elections, where turnout is vital.

If Obama says no to the project, Hoeven has threatened to attach it to a must-pass bill like hiking the debt ceiling.

Hoeven told The Hill there are multiple avenues he and other Senate Republicans are willing to explore.

“We could have Congress approve it out-right,” Hoeven said. “Or we would put forward a joint resolution in Congress and Sen. Landrieu has promised to co-sponsor the effort. We could also put it on a bill where we would say 'hey, you have to make a decision in 90 days.’

“Which one we will press and which one we will attach it to would be determined by how many Democrats we can get on board,” he said. “Right now we have about 10 to 12 Democrats."

This story was updated at 1:06 p.m.