UPDATE 2-Senators turn up pressure on Obama to approve Keystone pipeline

Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:41pm EST
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* Set politics aside, say nine senators from each party

* Environmental protests slated for White House on Sunday

* Senators want quick approval in the new year

By Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON, Nov 16 (Reuters) - A bipartisan group of senators on Friday urged President Barack Obama to quickly issue a permit for the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project environmental groups have vowed to keep fighting.

The senators - nine Democrats and nine Republicans - asked Obama to approve the pipeline because it will create jobs and reduce the need for oil from the Middle East. They were led by Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat and powerful chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and John Hoeven, a North Dakota Republican. Both senators represent the booming Bakken oil region.

The pipeline is designed to carry oil from Canada and the Bakken formation and last year, Obama put it on hold citing environmental concerns with a portion of the route in Nebraska. The TransCanada Corp project needs a presidential permit because it would cross an international border.

Nebraska's state government could wrap up its work examining a new route by the end of the year. The State Department is working on a review that the senators hope will affirm the project is in the national interest.

The senators urged Obama to issue a permit for the project "immediately afterward."   Continued...