Hoeven presses Obama for ‘definitive timeline’ on Keystone decision

Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) used Wednesday night’s dinner between President Obama and a dozen GOP senators to seek a “definitive timeline” for the White House decision on the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, a senior Hoeven aide said.

But Obama didn’t provide one, according to the aide to Hoeven, a lawmaker who is among the most vocal Capitol Hill supporters of the pipeline.

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“The president said he recognizes that Senator Hoeven really wants the Keystone XL pipeline built. The senator told the president we need a definitive timeline for a decision on the pipeline. The president said we should follow up with his energy adviser,” said Ryan Bernstein, Hoeven’s chief of staff.

Hoeven is a leader of Capitol Hill efforts to win federal approval of TransCanada Corp.’s pipeline, which would bring oil from Alberta’s oil sands projects to Gulf Coast refineries. The pipeline would also carry oil from the booming Bakken formation in North Dakota and Montana.

“The senator and the president talked about energy policy and the Keystone XL pipeline. In the context of addressing the country's fiscal challenges, the senator talked about how a pro-growth energy policy can help drive the economy, create jobs and help address the debt and deficit,” Bernstein said.

The State Department is leading the federal review of whether to provide a cross-border permit for the pipeline, a project supported by business groups and many unions but strongly opposed by environmentalists.

The State Department is taking comment for 45 days on a draft environmental analysis released last week. But the timeline for the final decision, which most observers expect will ultimately be made in the White House, is unclear.