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Pipeline proponents amp up pressure for approval at congressional hearing

| Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 7:51 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline flexed their muscle on Wednesday at a congressional hearing over legislation to force approval of the long-delayed project.

The hearing didn't discuss whether the legislation, which would eliminate a requirement that the pipeline receive a presidential permit, could overcome a likely White House veto or pass constitutional muster.

Instead, its supporters touted the 1,179-mile line as a job creator that would lower oil prices.

“America is a nation of builders, and the American people want to see Keystone XL built,” Republican Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, said at the hearing.

Republican Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana noted that America's demand for oil hasn't declined “just because the president hasn't approved the Keystone pipeline.”

The pipeline would transport 830,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Canada's oil sands region and the Bakken region of Montana and Nebraska to the Gulf Coast.

Its opponents said it would contribute to climate change and the jobs it would create would be temporary.

“There's no denying that construction of this pipeline would create jobs,” said Democratic Rep. Lois Capps of California. “But as policymakers, we must also look at the big picture.”

Democratic Rep. John Dingell of Michigan cautioned against eliminating the requirement that the pipeline receive a presidential permit.

“These unnecessary changes to hasten the process are counterproductive in the extreme and I beg the committee not to engage in this silly act,” he said.

The project has become controversial as the White House has repeatedly delayed its approval.

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