Senators push Kerry for quick Keystone decision

The department has said it would complete its analysis by March 31 at the earliest.

The resulting report would inform President Obama’s decision on whether to let Keystone go forward. The administration has final say because the pipeline crosses national borders.

The senators pressed Kerry and Obama to, “remain committed to reaching a decision within the first quarter of this year.” A majority of the Senate supports the project, saying it would provide thousands of jobs.

Green groups hope Kerry, who already has used his new Foggy Bottom perch to talk about climate change, will score Keystone’s environmental impact negatively.

They also have pressured Obama to scrap the project, most recently through a Washington, D.C., rally that drew tens of thousands of protesters.

But with Obama’s upcoming ruling come many considerations — one of which is rapport with Canada, to which the senators alluded.

In recent weeks, Canadian officials have escalated their Keystone lobbying efforts within the United States.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird met with Kerry earlier this month to discuss a range of topics, including Keystone.

And provincial officials from Alberta — home to the oil sands field Keystone would tap — pressed their case at last weekend’s National Governors Association summit in Washington.

Other letter signatories include: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), David Vitter (R-La.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.).