• Keystone Supporters, Foes Race to Influence Pipeline Decision

December 28, 2011

National Journal By Andrew Joseph

Now that President Obama has signed the payroll-tax extension that gives him 60 days to decide whether to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline, the industry is ramping up efforts to ensure the controversial project is green lighted.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy has joined with over 200 businesses from 12 states to form the Partnership to Fuel America. The group will push for Keystone approval and other projects that develop North American energy.

"If the president is serious about job creation and energy security, now it the time to act on the Keystone XL pipeline," Chamber president Thomas Donohue said in a statement Tuesday calling on Obama to approve the pipeline. "This is the perfect example of a shovel-ready project that makes sense for our economy."

The American Petroleum Institute will also include pipeline promotion as part of its larger "State of American Energy" campaign, which API president Jack Gerard will launch with a speech at the Newseum on Jan. 4. New API ads promoting energy independence will also start running in January.

Industry's push may be an uphill battle. The White House signaled last week that the 60-day window is too short for a through review and may lead to its cancellation.

Environmental groups have also been mobilizing since House Republicans got the pipeline provision attached to the payroll-tax extension. They have been publicizing the environmental problems they say will emerge if the pipeline is approved and arguing that the project will not create as many jobs as the oil and gas industry says.

House Speaker John Boehner "is trying to satisfy Big Oil's lobbyists and some of the GOP's top corporate donors by forcing the president to make a hasty decision, but it will backfire," the National Wildlife Federation's Jeremy Symons wrote in a blog post last week.

He continued, "I am confident that President Obama will stand up to big oil and reject this dangerous and unnecessary pipeline because it is the right thing to do, and that the American public will support him. Americans understand that it is wrong to play political games and strip families of our right to protect our land and our clean water from foreign oil companies, because you can't drink oil."