UPDATE 3-Obama says expects Keystone decision in next couple months -Oklahoma governor

Mon Feb 24, 2014 3:26pm EST
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By Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON Feb 24 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama told governors at a White House meeting on Monday he expects a decision on whether to allow the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline from Canada in the next couple of months, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin told reporters.

Fallin, a Republican who strongly supports the pipeline, said she asked Obama whether he would use his executive powers to approve the pipeline, which has been under government review since 2008.

"He did come back and say that he anticipates an answer one way or the other in a couple months," Fallin said after the governors met with Obama.

Opponents of the project say TransCanada Corp's pipeline would exacerbate climate change by supporting carbon-intensive development of Canada's oil sands crude. Supporters in Congress and the energy industry say Keystone would improve U.S. energy security and create thousands of construction jobs.

The decision puts Obama in a difficult political spot ahead of the 2014 midterm elections, where Democratic control of the U.S. Senate is at stake.

If he approves the project, he risks alienating core Democratic supporters. But denying it will anger labor unions, and could hurt Democratic incumbents in several tight races.

Some have speculated Obama could wait until after the November elections to decide, although his comments to Fallin would suggest an earlier ruling.   Continued...