Freshman Dem senators quickly join Keystone pipeline push

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“We have gone through a process with the Keystone pipeline where it has taken us longer to evaluate that pipeline than it took us to fight a world war. That is a frustrating point to the American public who realizes this is not only a great security project, but it’s a jobs project, it’s an economic project,” Heitkamp said at a bipartisan press conference in the Capitol Wednesday.

The pipeline would bring Canadian oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries. It would also carry oil from the booming Bakken formation in North Dakota and Montana.

The lawmakers, in the letter, said Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman’s (R) approval Tuesday of a route through his state should prompt the White House to “expeditiously” complete the review and approve TransCanada Corp.’s pipeline.

Sens. John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenMcConnell works to salvage tax bill GOP to reduce tax relief by 0B to win over deficit hawks  The Hill's Whip List: Where Republicans stand on Senate tax bill MORE (R-N.D.) and Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusBooker tries to find the right lane  Top Lobbyists 2017: Hired Guns GOP tries to keep spotlight on taxes amid Mueller charges MORE (D-Mont.) spearheaded the letter.

“We ask you not to move the goalposts as opponents of this project have pressed you to do. We urge you to choose jobs, economic development and American energy security,” the letter states.

The State Department is leading the federal review, and a spokeswoman said this week that the process won’t be done until the end of March at the earliest, and hinted that it may take longer.

The timeline could put the matter into the lap of Sen. John KerryJohn Forbes KerryLobbying world Kerry: Trump not pursuing 'smart' or 'clever' plan on North Korea Tillerson will not send high-ranking delegation to India with Ivanka Trump: report MORE (D-Mass.), who is widely expected to win confirmation to become secretary of State, replacing current Secretary Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP lawmakers cite new allegations of political bias in FBI Top intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with father MORE.

Hoeven said he plans to raise the topic with Kerry when they meet one-one-one about his nomination.

Hoeven, asked whether the discussion with Kerry about Keystone’s fate would affect whether he will vote for Kerry, replied, “I am going to make it a very important consideration.”

On Thursday, Kerry will have his nomination hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which could provide other lawmakers a chance to ask him about climate change and Keystone.

Environmentalists oppose the pipeline due to greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands extraction and use, arguing it will help lock in long-term, increased development of the massive Canadian oil sands resources.