Republicans in Congress say they are tired of waiting for President Obama to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline project, so they are trying to bypass the President. On Wednesday, the House passed a bill known as the "Northern Route Approval Act," which would approve the pipeline without the required Presidential permit. Keystone XL is designed to carry oil from Canada's tar sands to refineries in Houston and Port Arthur. The project has been under intense scrutiny and environmental review since it was first proposed in 2008, as opponents claim it will harm the environment and cause global warming.
Texas lawmakers have been especially vocal in their support of speeding up the pipeline's approval. "Unfortunately the approval process has been marred by indecision and unnecessary, I believe, delays," says Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX). He and other Keystone XL supporters accuse President Obama of deliberately dragging his feet in signing off on the project, even after it has undergone some 15,000 pages of environmental reviews. "Only in America would this be controversial," says Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX). "It's a win for the Canadians, it's a win for the consumers in America, and it's a win for the workers of America." Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX) of the Woodlands agrees, saying the President has had "more than enough time" to approve the project.
Currently, Keystone XL needs approval from the State Department in addition to the Presidential permit, since the project crosses an international border. Earlier this year, the State Department released a preliminary report saying the pipeline was unlikely to cause significant environmental impact. A final report from the State Department is expected this summer. But those like Congressman Pete Olson (R-TX) of Sugar Land don't want to wait any longer. "America needs 20,000 jobs, America needs 800,000 barrels a day coming from Canada, America needs national security that comes from energy security, America needs the Keystone XL pipeline," he says. Nevertheless, the bill is unlikely to go anywhere in the Democrat-controlled Senate, and the White House says President Obama opposes the bill.