Senate Republicans today renewed their push for the Keystone XL oil pipeline project to move forward, despite President Obama's rejection of the controversial proposal earlier this month.
"It's time to make a decision. It's time to move forward," Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said on the Senate floor today, "Clearly we can make this decision. Clearly after more than three years of study it doesn't make sense to not move forward. Particularly when we're talking about tens of thousands of jobs today we need, not only will it not cost our federal government revenue, it will generate hundreds of millions in revenue back to local, state, and federal government."
The legislation, introduced on the floor of the Senate this afternoon, would start construction of the project immediately, but would allow "as much time" as needed to draw up a new route through Nebraska for the pipeline.
The proposed route for the pipeline that the Obama administration rejected would have taken it through Nebraska's Sand Hills, an area where the Ogallala aquifer is exceptionally close to the surface. Questions had been raised about the risk to the aquifer, which is vital to farmers, if there were a spill from the pipeline in that area.
"On this legislation again, we say as to the only contested portion of the route where you may want to reroute through Nebraska due to the Ogallala aquifer, we provide as much time as needed to do the rerouting, but at some point we've got to make a decision to move forward with the project."
The legislation would move without the president, which Hoeven said today would be covered by invoking the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.
"It is time for Congress to exercise its authority again for the good of our economy - for the good of our economy and for the good of our country," Hoeven said.
Even if the bill is passed in the House and Senate, it could still be vetoed by the president.
The legislation has the support of 44 senators, but only one Democrat: Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
"As our country continues to need oil, common sense tells me I'd rather buy it from our friends in Canada, not countries around the world that seek to do us harm," Manchin said in a statement today. "I'd rather buy from our closest ally and create jobs in America than push Canada to build a pipeline out to the West Coast of North America that benefits countries like China. This pipeline is a job creator with support of both labor and business."