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Coats, Donnelly lend backing to new oil pipeline

Both U.S. senators from Indiana are supporting bipartisan legislation that would authorize completion of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Sens. Dan Coats, R-Ind., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., said Thursday they will back a bill to let pipeline construction proceed without requiring a permit from the Obama administration, which continues to review environmental concerns along the route in Nebraska.

Donnelly is among 11 Democrats to endorse the bill, which was introduced Thursday by Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and John Hoeven, R-N.D. The sponsors said all 45 Republicans in the chamber, including Coats, are supporting the measure.

“I have long been a strong supporter of constructing the Keystone XL pipeline and will continue to push for its approval because of its potential to create jobs and improve our energy and national security,” Donnelly said in a statement.

Coats said in a statement: “The Keystone pipeline has bipartisan support in Congress because it will provide American jobs and reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil. This project has been sitting on the president’s desk awaiting his signature for five years, and it is long past time for him to get on board in support of this proposal.”

Saying approval is the jurisdiction of the State Department, White House spokesman Jay Carney indicated Wednesday that President Barack Obama will oppose legislative efforts to have the pipeline built. He told reporters the process “has to be run by the book, outside of politics, and that’s the way it’s being run.”

The TransCanada Corp. pipeline would run from tar sands in Alberta through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska., linking with existing pipelines.

Landrieu and Hoeven expect a vote on the bill in coming days in the Democratic-run Senate, The Associated Press said. They will need to attract the support of at least four more Democrats to overcome a 60-vote threshold for advancing the legislation to a final vote.

The Republican-controlled House has approved similar legislation.

bfrancisco@jg.net

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