Building the Keystone XL pipeline is a "no-brainer," said Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., in the weekly GOP address on Saturday. And if the president won't act, Terry promised, Congress will.
The proposed pipeline, which would increase the amount of crude oil sent from Canada to oil refineries on the Gulf Coast, has drawn fire from environmental groups, who worry about the potential for oil spills along the pipeline's path. They also point out that the oil that would flow through Keystone, derived from Canadian tar sands, is among the most carbon-intensive forms of energy to produce.
Advocates like Terry insist that the Keystone would "bring more North American energy to the marketplace and put thousands to work."
"Keystone is primed to give our economy a shot in the arm and make energy more affordable - and it won't cost the taxpayers a dime," Terry said.
"Despite all of that," he said, "the Obama administration continues to block Keystone, using every bureaucratic trick and excuse in the book."
In November 2011, the administration delayed an approval deadline on the pipeline, pushing the final decision back at least a year. In January, a U.S. official told Reuters that a final determination would not be made until at least June. The State Department, which is charged with final approval of the project because the pipeline would cross a transnational border, indicated earlier in January that it would not act before the end of March.
The repeated delays have rankled lawmakers like Terry, who introduced a bill in March that would take the approval process out of the hands of the executive branch. According to The Washington Times, the bill has the support of at least two Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
In the Senate, Sen. John Hoeven, R-S.D., and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., have introduced a similar bill that would greenlight the pipeline using Congress' powers under the Commerce Clause. They've attracted a host of bipartisan co-sponsors. And just last week, 62 senators, including 17 Democrats, endorsed the project in a symbolic, non-binding vote - a feat Terry called "a bipartisan show of support rarely seen in Washington."
"The Keystone XL Pipeline is a no-brainer," Terry said in Saturday's address. "It's passed muster through several environmental reviews, it's picked up support from a broad, grassroots coalition of unions and employers. Public backing has risen to 70 percent."
"The people and Congress have spoken," he said. "The experts have weighed in. Now it's time to build the Keystone pipeline. No more delays, no more politics. If the president continues to drag his feet, Congress is prepared to act."
In his own weekly address, President Obama eschewed politics, extending Passover and Easter greetings to American families.
"This week, Jewish families gathered around the Seder table, commemorating the Exodus from Egypt and the triumph of faith over oppression," he said. "And this weekend, Michelle, Malia, Sasha and I will join Christians around the world to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the hopeful promise of Easter."
As Americans observe the holidays, Mr. Obama said, "I hope we're all able to take a moment to pause and reflect. To embrace our loved ones. To give thanks for our blessings. To rededicate ourselves to interests larger than our own."