GOP pressures Obama to build pipeline with new 'Keystone Clock'

House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans on Monday put President Obama on the "Keystone Clock."

In a new messaging campaign, the committee’s GOP members have plastered a “Keystone Clock” on its website that shows 1,606 days have passed since TransCanada Corp. filed its September 2008 application for the oil sands pipeline with the State Department.

“Keystone XL remains an opportunity to help create a more secure energy future, but the clock on Keystone XL is still ticking as the president continues to delay his decision on the project,” committee Republicans said in a Monday statement.

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Obama has the power to approve or reject the pipeline, as it crosses national boundaries.

The Energy and Commerce initiative marks an escalation of GOP efforts to nudge Obama on Keystone after Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) gave the OK to a revised pipeline route. The Nebraska ruling was viewed as one of Keystone's last hurdles, with clearing Obama remaining the final test.

A majority of the House and the Senate support the project, which would bring Canadian oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries. Congressional supporters, most of them Republican, say it would create thousands of jobs. 

Along with the clock, the Energy and Commerce's new Keystone website also hosts a “resource center” that includes a timeline on the Keystone application process.

Several GOP lawmakers also have tweeted on the subject with the #TimeToBuild hashtag. Those tweets compare the lapse between the application to build Keystone and Obama's decision with the length of time needed to construct the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pentagon, among other examples.

While most lawmakers want Obama to sign off on the pipeline, green groups and some Democrats are pressuring the president to scrap it.

Environmental groups are organizing a rally Sunday in Washington, D.C., that will urge the White House to take action on climate change, including killing Keystone.

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said Monday on Fox Business Network’s Varney and Co. that environmentalists “are pretty strong” when it comes to Keystone.

“Without a question, they made a point that they did not want this thing done,” Upton said. 

Noting some of the pushback from green groups, Upton said he wasn’t too hopeful that Obama would allow Keystone to move forward.

“I’d like to think that he will, but yeah, I won’t be surprised either way,” Upton said.

Green groups lobbied Obama hard on the pipeline leading up to the 2012 election, which experts say led the president to punt a final decision. 

Green groups are now hoping to hold Obama to his recent comments on climate change, including those made during his inaugural address. They have said green-lighting Keystone would be antithetical to Obama's commitment to tackle climate change.