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Senate Dems Press Obama on Keystone XL Pipeline

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Senators from swing districts are urging the president for a timeline, but the White House is keeping mum for now.

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Eleven Senate Democrats sent a letter to President Obama late last week urging him to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline by May 31. 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 Democratic senators signing on were Mary Landrieu (Louisiana), Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota), Mark Begich (Alaska), Joe Donnelly (Indiana), Kay Hagan (North Carolina), Joe Manchin (West Virginia), Claire McCaskill (Missouri), Mark Pryor (Arkansas), Jon Tester (Montana), John Walsh (Montana), and Mark Warner (Virginia).
 
The Obama administration has gone through a long process with the Keystone XL pipeline. Back in 2011, the issue didn't 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 its 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 midterm elections.

Related Article: Keystone Decision in Two Months?

But that's the problem that many 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."

This article was written by Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com.
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