Lundergan Grimes backs Keystone XL

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Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) said she supports completion of the Keystone XL pipeline, joining Republicans and many Democrats who are pushing President Obama to approve the project.

Grimes had faced criticism from Republicans and incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) for previously not giving her opinion on the pipeline, which would carry oil sands from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.

“The administration should rule now and approve the project,” Grimes said Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. “Putting Americans back to work in good-paying jobs that strengthen the middle class is my top priority and it should be the federal government’s as well.”

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Grimes recognized concerns from environmentalists, but said they have largely been addressed, and “on balance,” the project’s economic benefits make it worth supporting it.

“Like any project of this scale, the Keystone is not perfect,” she said.

The Obama administration last week said it would delay its decision on approving Keystone until a Nebraska case about the pipeline’s route is finished. The move infuriated supporters of the pipeline, who said the administration is playing politics with the project by delaying a decision until after the elections.

Grimes has previously criticized President Obama’s energy policies, saying they harm Kentucky’s coal industry.

McConnell’s campaign criticized Grimes for taking nine months after launching her campaign to weigh in on Keystone XL, AP reported.

“If this is the kind of reluctant advocacy Kentucky coal miners can expect, it’s pretty clear why left-wing environmental groups are filling her campaign coffers,” spokeswoman Allison Moore said.

Grimes joins Michelle Nunn, another Democrat who has endorsed Keystone during a Senate race against a Republican. Nunn is running in Georgia to fill the seat being left by retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R).

Credo SuperPAC, which pushes for pro-environment policies, announced earlier Wednesday that it would spend $500,000 to open Kentucky offices to oppose McConnell.

After Grimes’s announcement, Credo said it would not change its plans. The group’s first priority is defeating McConnell, and the Keystone decision is up to the president, not the Senate, it said.