WASHINGTON — The Obama administration Tuesday threatened to veto legislation pending before the House that would allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline without presidential approval.
House Republican leaders plan to move forward Wednesday with a vote on the bill, claiming that it would provide jobs and energy security to the nation.
"I wish the president would set partisan politics aside and take a bipartisan step toward jobs and all-American energy independence by approving a modern, high-tech infrastructure project: The Keystone pipeline," said Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock.
TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline project is designed to carry tar sands crude from Canada to Gulf Coast refiners. The State Department is expected to issue a decision later this year on whether to approve it.
The Arkansas congressional delegation has supported the Keystone pipeline in large measure because the steel pipe would come from Welspun Tubular in Little Rock.
The Office of Management and Budget issued a statement of administrative policy Tuesday criticizing the bill for conflicting with longstanding executive authorities and preventing thorough consideration of serious security, safety and environmental concerns.
The administration also noted that the bill is not needed because the State Department is "working diligently to complete the permit decision process."
The objections of environmental groups that strongly oppose the Keystone pipeline plan have grown more shrill since an ExxonMobil pipeline carrying a similar grade of crude ruptured in April, spilling thousands of gallons of oil into a Mayflower subdivision.