House GOP to tie oil pipeline to highway bill

April 14, 2012

By Stephen Dinan-The Washington Times

Seeking to a stronger negotiating position, House Republicans said Friday they will demand any eventual long-term federal highway funding bill also include approval of the massive Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline project.

The move will once again put pressure on Senate Democrats and President Obama, who earlier this year blocked the project after Congress set a deadline for him to make a decision.

“The House will insist that the Keystone XL legislation be included as part of the package,” the Energy and Commerce Committee said in a press release Friday, laying out leaders’ plans to force another confrontation with the president.

Keystone would bring oil from Canada’s tar sands into the U.S., and has strong support from both business and labor groups, but has been strongly opposed by leading environmentalist groups.

The project hit a snag late last year when the Obama administration’s State Department, which has a say because the pipeline crosses international boundaries, delayed final approval until after the 2012 election, citing concerns the route would affect sensitive Midwestern ecosystems.

As part of a late-session tax-cut deal Congress voted to impose a hard-and-fast deadline for making a final decision. Mr. Obama said it gave him too little time, so he denied the pipeline application.

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