Eleven Senate Democrats sent a letter to President Obama urging him to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline by May 31st. The letter calls for a decision before then to avoid further construction delays. “We need a definitive timeline laid out, a timeline that reduces the comment period for federal agencies, officials and other entities,” they wrote. “We cannot miss another construction season.”
The Senators came from swing districts and many are up for tough reelection battles. Nearly all also have a history of support for the oil industry. The eleven senators signing on were Mary Landrieu (D-LA) Heidi Heitkamp (ND, Mark Begich (AK), Joe Donnelly (IN), Kay Hagan (NC), Joe Manchin (WV), Claire McCaskill (MO), Mark Pryor (AR), Jon Tester (MT), John Walsh (MT), and Mark Warner (VA).
The Obama administration has gone through a long process with the Keystone XL pipeline. Back in 2011, the issue did not appear to be on the administration’s agenda, with then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicating that she generally supported approval. However, once the environmental movement made it a centerpiece of their climate change agenda, the administration repeatedly punted on the issue, first in an effort to get the issue beyond the 2012 election. Now, it appears that the administration wishes to wait on a decision until after this year’s mid-term elections.
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But, that is the problem that many of swing-state Democratic senators have. Keystone XL polls well in their states, and they feel that their reelection campaigns could be aided by a Presidential decision in the affirmative.
However, the White House was careful not to give anything away. In response to questions about the letter, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, “Our position on that process hasn't changed, which is it needs to run its appropriate course without interference from the White House or Congress. When there's a decision to be announced, it will be announced.”
By Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com