By Zack Colman - 02/07/13 03:52 PM EST
Obama has the final say on the pipeline because it crosses national boundaries. Some reports say the president won’t decide on the project until mid-June, at the earliest.
In the meantime, the international pipeline’s backers and detractors are intensifying efforts to sway Obama.
Both Democratic and Republican pipeline proponents contend Keystone would add jobs, strengthen North American energy production and lessen dependence on foreign oil.
The Foreign Affairs Committee Republicans stressed the pipeline, which would bring Alberta oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries, could help wean the U.S. off oil from the OPEC oil cartel. They also feared Canada might reroute the pipeline westward to export oil sands to China.
“Further hesitation in approving Keystone XL would not only ensure higher economic costs, but enhance the fortunes of economic rivals, as Chinese state-owned oil companies and others race to secure permanent access to North American energy sources,” the GOP lawmakers told Obama.
Separately, the chief executive of TransCanada Corp., the firm building the pipeline, is meeting with a senior State Department official Thursday.
The State Department is currently reviewing the international pipeline, with its final report likely coming no earlier than the end of the first quarter.
Green groups say Keystone should flunk the State Department’s environmental review.
Some of those groups are participating in a Feb. 17 climate rally in Washington, D.C., to urge Obama to reject the pipeline.
They have cast the forthcoming decision as the litmus test for whether Obama will honor recent comments — including in his inaugural address — about tackling climate change in his second term.