With decision looming, green groups press Obama to kill Keystone XL pipeline

More than 70 green groups urged President Obama in a Monday letter to kill the Keystone XL pipeline to make good on promises to address climate change.

Obama has publicly pledged to tackle climate change a handful of times since Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast, though without detailing specific policy plans.

In their letter, the groups said Obama should speak out more often on climate change, impose emissions limits on existing coal-fired power plants and focus on creating clean-energy jobs.

They added the president also should shut down the proposed pipeline that would bring Canadian oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries.

“Hurricane Sandy made it tragically clear that many communities are extremely vulnerable to climate change. We can and we must build back better — with investment in sustainable infrastructure, not the kind of carbon-intensive development that helped drive this problem in the first place,” the groups wrote in the letter.

Green groups have been expecting a final decision on Keystone from the State Department for several weeks. State has final say on the project’s northern leg because it crosses into Canada.

The project cleared one of its final hurdles last week by getting a positive review from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality. The state determined a revised route for the pipeline posed minimal environmental harm, though opponents disagreed with the assessment.

Green groups have expressed optimism that Obama’s pick of Sen. John KerryJohn KerryBiden's climate policies: Adrift in economic and scientific fantasyland The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden expresses optimism on bipartisanship; Cheney ousted Watch live: John Kerry testifies on climate change MORE (D-Mass.) to replace Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton to speak at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders summit More than half of eligible Latinos voted in 2020, setting record Fox News signs Trey Gowdy, Dan Bongino for new shows MORE signals a greater administration emphasis on climate change.

And with the State Department holding the keys to Keystone, some environmentalists hope Kerry will stop the project.

The pipeline, however, has industry approval and support from a swath of the public.

And it is unclear whether Obama, who has said he wants to enhance the nation’s energy exporting prowess, would want to pick a fight with the oil-and-gas lobby early in his second term.