The hearing would ensure an even greater spotlight on the looming federal decision over Keystone XL, which would bring Canadian oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries.
A wide-ranging State Department draft environmental report last week dealt a major blow to climate change activists opposed to Keystone.
A key conclusion is that Keystone is “unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the oil sands,” a finding that counters green group claims that Keystone would be a major catalyst for carbon-intensive oil sands development.
Menendez’s Thursday comments about holding a hearing go beyond his initial reaction to the State Department’s draft report, which is now open for public comment.
On March 1 he noted, “I look forward to monitoring this process closely” but stopped short of declaring plans for a formal Capitol Hill hearing.
The project is at the center of a furious political and lobbying battle.
Major business groups, Canadian officials and many unions are pressing President Obama to greenlight the project, while climate change activists have made blocking Keystone a top priority.