By Andrew Restuccia - 03/10/12 11:52 AM EST
North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) called on Congress to quickly pass legislation to green-light the Keystone XL oil pipeline, arguing that the Obama administration is “killing energy development.”
Dalrymple said Saturday the pipeline – which would carry oil sands crude from Alberta, Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast – would benefit North Dakota and the rest of the country. The pipeline would run through North Dakota.
In the weekly Republican address, Dalrymple urged Congress to pass a measure authored by Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) that would fast-track construction of the pipeline.
Dalrymple’s remarks come just days after the Senate narrowly defeated Hoeven’s Keystone measure, which came up Thursday as an amendment to the highway bill. Hoeven and other Republicans vowed to continue pushing the measure, outlining plans to attach it to the highway bill when it comes up in the House.
Republicans have pounced on President Obama’s January decision to reject a key permit for the pipeline, arguing the administration has turned its back on thousands of jobs.
But Obama has said the decision was not based on the merits of the project, but on a GOP-backed, 60-day deadline to make a decision on the project included in a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut.
“North Dakota oil producers were scheduled to feed the Keystone pipeline with 100,000 barrels of crude oil per day,” Dalrymple said. “Now we will not be able to supply the choice American markets because President Obama says he needs more time to study Keystone. The fact is he has had over three years to study this issue.”
The pipeline has been under federal review for years and a key State Department analysis said the project would have minimal environmental impacts.
But environmental groups and others strongly oppose the project, pointing to greenhouse gas emission from oil sands production and the possibility of oil spills along the pipeline route, among other things.
In his weekly address, Obama disputed the claim that his administration is halting energy development.
"Under my Administration, oil production in America is at an eight-year high," he said. "We’ve quadrupled the number of operating oil rigs, and opened up millions of acres for drilling."
In GOP address, Dalrymple criticized the administration for its plans to regulate hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in which water, sand and chemicals are injected into the ground in order to access valuable natural gas supplies.
“In our part of the country, hydraulic fracturing takes place two miles below the surface of the earth and nowhere near any water supplies,” Dalrymple said. “It is time for this Administration to stop using phony excuses.”
The Interior Department is set to issue regulations for fracking on public lands and the Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a study on the health implications of the practice.
Industry groups insist that fracking is safe. But opponents raise concerns about the possibility of groundwater contamination. EPA released a draft study late last year that said fracking probably caused groundwater contamination in Wyoming, but the agency has warned against using the finding as a broader indictment of the drilling technique.