Administration Critics Keep Up Pressure Over Keystone

Pipe is stacked at the southern site of the Keystone XL pipeline on March 22, 2012 in Cushing, Oklahoma. U.S. President Barack Obama is pressing federal agencies to expedite the section of the Keystone XL pipeline between Oklahoma and the Gulf Coast. (National Journal)

Conservative lawmakers in the House and Senate are keeping up the pressure on President Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, despite the fact that the president made no mention of the project Tuesday in his State of the Union speech.

Reacting to the speech, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., an ardent proponent of the pipeline, which would ship crude oil from Alberta, Canada, to Gulf Coast refineries, said: "Although it is only one project, the Keystone XL pipeline illustrates the way the president is holding up our economy and discouraging real, private-sector job creation. The Keystone pipeline, and projects like it, will create millions of jobs.... Yet the Keystone XL pipeline has languished for five years in regulatory limbo, while millions remain jobless."

Over on the other side of the Capitol, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., also touted the project as a jobs creator.

"Building the architecture of abundance and saying yes to widely supported projects like the Keystone pipeline will help create jobs today and keep energy affordable tomorrow," Upton said in a statement. "We face great challenges as a nation, but now is the time to come together, not go it alone, in the effort to create jobs and boost the middle class."

The conservative lawmakers were joined by private-sector supporters of the pipeline, including Jay Timmons, the president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers.

"The president missed an opportunity to show the American people that Washington can put politics aside for pro-growth policies," Timmons said in a statement. "His call for an 'all-of-the-above' energy strategy neglected to include the Keystone XL pipeline, and his comment on tax reform once again used the political target of energy producers while failing to call for comprehensive reform that will drive growth for all industries."

Environmental activists have long opposed the pipeline on the grounds that it will accelerate Canadian oil sands development. Project backers, however, say it will not have any substantial environmental impact and contend that shipping crude by pipeline is safer than by truck or rail.

Obama has said he will not greenlight Keystone XL unless it has been demonstrated that the pipeline will not significantly add to atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide.