Senators raise concerns on oil sands pipeline

Fri Oct 29, 2010 4:20pm EDT
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By Ayesha Rascoe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Nearly a dozen U.S. Senators on Friday raised questions about the need for a proposed $7 billion pipeline that they said will bring "dirty oil" from Canadian oil sands to U.S. refineries and significantly increase the country's reliance on fossil fuels.

The lawmakers, 10 Democrats and one independent, said the State Department needs to answer several key questions before deciding whether to approve TransCanada's application to build the 2,000-mile Keystone XL pipeline.

"Approval of this pipeline will significantly increase our dependence on this oil for decades," the senators said in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"We believe the Department of State should not pre-judge the outcome of what should be a thorough, transparent analysis of the need for this oil and its impacts on our climate and clean energy goals," the letter said.

Led by Democrats Patrick Leahy, of Vermont, and Jeff Merkley, of Oregon, the letter said the department should examine whether greater use of fuel-efficient technologies and advanced biofuels could offset the need for the pipeline.

The department should also consider whether expanded use of oil sands crude will harm U.S. attempts to reduce oil consumption, the lawmakers said.

This is the latest in a series of critiques that various lawmakers have lobbed at State as the department considers whether to greenlight the Keystone project, which is expected transport 510,000 barrels per day of crude from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf coast.

Clinton angered some lawmakers and environmental groups this month when she said her department was "inclined" to approve the pipeline because of energy security issues.   Continued...