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GOP senators ramp up push for Keystone XL pipeline

Thirty-seven Republican senators have co-sponsored a new bill aimed at forcing the Obama administration to move forward with the Keystone XL U.S.-Canada oil pipeline project. "Jobs will be created right away and billions of dollars in investment will be unleashed through legislation introduced to permit the $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline, the largest infrastructure project ...

Thirty-seven Republican senators have co-sponsored a new bill aimed at forcing the Obama administration to move forward with the Keystone XL U.S.-Canada oil pipeline project.

"Jobs will be created right away and billions of dollars in investment will be unleashed through legislation introduced to permit the $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline, the largest infrastructure project ready in the United States, to commence construction," said Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN), the lead sponsor of the "North American Energy Security Act," introduced Wednesday, in a release. "This is no time for delay."

Lugar is leading the drive to move the project forward along with Sens. John Hoeven (R-ND) and David Vitter (R-LA).

Thirty-seven Republican senators have co-sponsored a new bill aimed at forcing the Obama administration to move forward with the Keystone XL U.S.-Canada oil pipeline project.

"Jobs will be created right away and billions of dollars in investment will be unleashed through legislation introduced to permit the $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline, the largest infrastructure project ready in the United States, to commence construction," said Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN), the lead sponsor of the "North American Energy Security Act," introduced Wednesday, in a release. "This is no time for delay."

Lugar is leading the drive to move the project forward along with Sens. John Hoeven (R-ND) and David Vitter (R-LA).

The White House announced a delay in moving forward with the project on Nov. 10, saying that it needed time to explore alternative routes for the pipeline, which would bring crude oil from Canadian oil sands deposits to refineries in the southern United States. The delay announcement came right in the middle of the State Department’s own review of the project. In a statement, State said it was particularly sensitive to concerns about running the pipeline through the environmentally sensitive Sand Hills region of Nebraska.

The main builder of the pipeline, TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP, applied for a permit to build the pipeline in 2008. The State Department is in charge of doing the Environmental Impact Study on the project, but has been criticized for outsourcing that work to a company called Cardno Entrix, which has deep financial ties to TransCanada.

Despite that, the pipeline’s environmental impact review is ongoing, and the 37 GOP senators want the permit issued within the next 60 days. They are accusing the White House of delaying the project for political reasons.

"President Obama has the opportunity of creating 20,000 new jobs NOW. Incredibly, he has delayed a decision until after the 2012 election apparently in fear of offending a part of his political base and even risking the ire of construction unions who support the pipeline," Lugar said.

Specifically, the bill would require the Secretary of State to issue the permit within 60 days unless the president determines it is not in the national interest. The legislation would also require the permit to contain provisions for environmental protection and would specify that the state of Nebraska would have the right to make sure the pipeline route does not impact the Sands Hills area.

Lugar is promising to press for quick consideration of the bill in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The other sponsors are: Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Pat Roberts (R-KS), John Barrasso (R-WY), Dan Coats (R-IN), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Jerry Moran (R-KS), John Thune (R-SD), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Jim Risch (R-ID), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Rob Portman (R-OH), Richard Burr (R-NC), Richard Shelby (R-AL), John Boozman (R-AR), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Mike Lee (R-UT), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Bob Corker (R-TN).

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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