By Ben Geman - 11/16/12 08:49 PM EST
Nothing has changed about the thousands of jobs that Keystone XL will create. Nothing has changed about the energy security to be gained through an important addition to the existing pipeline network built with sound environmental stewardship and the best modern technology. Nothing has changed about the security to be gained from using more fuel produced at home and by a close and stable ally. And nothing has changed about the need for America to remain a place where businesses can still build things.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also signed the letter. It requests a meeting with Obama in the “near future.” The White House did not comment.
The Nov. 16 letter signals that TransCanada Corp.’s proposed pipeline, which would transport Canadian oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries, will remain a priority for proponents and foes alike.
Environmentalists are staging a demonstration at the White House on Sunday urging Obama to reject the project, which has played a starring role in political battles over energy and climate policy over the past year.
The pipeline has been politically thorny terrain for Obama, who in late 2011 punted a decision on the project until after the 2012 elections. A final determination is expected in early 2013.
Environmental groups bitterly oppose the project due to greenhouse gas emissions from extracting and burning oil sands, forest damage from the massive projects in Alberta, and fears of spills along the route.
But the project has strong support from business groups, and many unions, which like green groups are a key part of Obama’s political base.
The pipeline, in addition to transporting Canadian oil, is slated to carry oil from the booming Bakken formation in North Dakota and Montana. It would also traverse Montana.
“The election is over, people want us to work together to create jobs, and one sure way we can create jobs right now is by moving forward with construction on the Keystone XL pipeline,” Baucus said in a statement.
Hoeven said moving ahead with the pipeline would be a “big step toward American energy independence.”
The other senators that signed the letter are:
Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), David Vitter (R-La.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.).