WASHINGTON — Sen. John Boozman urged colleagues Tuesday to expedite approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, saying the project would have direct benefits in Arkansas.

WASHINGTON — Sen. John Boozman urged colleagues Tuesday to expedite approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, saying the project would have direct benefits in Arkansas.


"This pipeline makes sense for job creation and the future of our nation’s energy supply," Boozman said on the Senate floor.


The Senate this week is debating legislation that would approve construction of the pipeline without further review by the State Department or White House. The House last week approved its version of the bill but fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to overcome a likely presidential veto.


On Monday, the Senate voted 63-32 to allow debate on the Keystone bill to move forward. Boozman and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., voted in favor. They are also co-sponsors of the legislation.


Arkansas lawmakers have uniformly backed the pipeline, pointing to the economic benefit it would have in Little Rock, where Welspun Tubular is storing 350 miles of steel pipeline for the project. Welspun is one of the manufacturers tapped by TransCanada to build the 36-inch-diameter steel pipe needed to complete the 1,100 miles of pipeline.


The pipeline, which would carry up to 830,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day from Canada to refineries in the Gulf Coast of Texas, was first proposed in 2008 but has yet to clear permitting reviews by the U.S. Department of State.


The Obama administration as well as many Senate Democrats are opposed to the legislation, arguing that TransCanada should go through the required reviews for the Keystone project.


"I know my colleagues here would like to argue that somehow this has been a long, drawn-out process. This has really been a process by one company constantly circumventing the rules on the books and trying to get a special deal for approval," said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.


Boozman told his colleagues that he visited Welspun Tubular in Little Rock last month and was told that approval of the pipeline would create 150 jobs "just to load the pipe on the rail cars for shipment."


Other Arkansas companies would also benefit including Nucor Steel in Blythesville, he said.


"The economic impact has wide reach to Arkansans," Boozman said. "There’s a trickle-down effect."


Aside from the construction jobs that would come with approval of the pipeline, Boozman said that tapping the tar sands in Canada would provide a reliable source of energy to the United States from a key ally.


"This is good news as we work to reduce our dependence on oil from regions of the world that are hostile towards our country," he said.


The Senate has not yet scheduled a time for a vote on passage of the bill.