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Republicans baffled by Keystone XL delay

Oct. 27, 2011 at 8:46 AM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Republican leaders said they were baffled by a move to delay a decision on the Keystone XL oil pipeline while the president is blaming lawmakers for inaction.

U.S. President Barack Obama is trumpeting his "We Can't Wait" campaign to counter a legislative branch handicapped by partisan politicking.

"Republicans agree, which is why the Obama administration's delay of the Keystone XL pipeline project is so baffling," a statement from the Republican-led House and Energy Committee read.

Three U.S. senators and 10 U.S. representatives -- 12 Democrats and an independent -- called on U.S. State Department Inspector General Howard Geisel to delay a decision on the Keystone XL to allow for examination of potential conflicts of interest.

They allege, in a letter obtained by the Platts news service, that officials at pipeline company TransCanada may have improperly influenced a State Department review of Keystone XL.

TransCanada wants to build the Keystone XL pipeline to carry oil from tar sands projects in Alberta province to refineries along the southern U.S. coast.

Opponents of the project, who say they worry about the environmental impact of tar sands oil, say some of TransCanada's backers had an improper relationship with officials in the Obama administration.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., said TransCanada "reportedly was allowed to screen private firms competing to perform an environmental impact study on the pipeline."

The State Department, which needs to approve the pipeline because it would cross international borders, said it didn't see any major environmental problems associated with the pipeline.

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