Senators prod Kerry for swift Keystone pipeline approval


WASHINGTON — Arkansas’ U.S. senators appealed to Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday for swift approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

U.S. Sens. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Mark Pryor, D-Ark., joined 18 other senators in a letter to Kerry urging

that a final decision be made by the end of March.

“Without action, Canada will look west and we’ll miss a valuable opportunity to decrease our dependency on foreign oil and ensure our future energy security,” Pryor said.

“We can’t keep stalling this valuable project that will provide jobs for hardworking Arkansans,” Boozman said.

Tons of pipe for the planned transcontinental pipeline from Canadian oil fields to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast are stockpiled at Welspun Tubular in Little Rock while the Obama administration studies the environmental impact of the project.

Welspun said last spring it has more than 500 miles of pipe at its plant ready to ship for the pipeline while the company awaits government approval for the $7 billion project.

A year ago, President Obama rejected a proposal that would have taken the pipeline through Nebraska’s Sand Hill region where a spill could have contaminated the Ogallala Aquifer.

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman last month approved a revised route through the state for the pipeline, saying it could be built and operated safely. TransCanada, the pipeline operator, offered the alternative route to avoid the sensitive water resource.

The State Department has yet to issue a final decision now that the Nebraska governor has agreed to the alternative route. In the letter, the senators urged Kerry to make Keystone a top priority.

In a speech in Little Rock last week, former Vice President Al Gore called the Canadian fields “the dirtiest source of energy that you can imagine” and said the Keystone pipeline project should be vetoed and canceled.