Canadian pipeline company TransCanada plans to build its Keystone XL pipeline to carry oil from tar sands projects in Alberta to refineries along the southern U.S. coast.
A law extending payroll tax benefits contained a rider that gave President Barack Obama until mid-February to determine if the pipeline is in the national interest.
Jack Gerard, president and chief executive officer at the American Petroleum Institute, sent a letter to Obama explaining the economic benefits of the project.
"Our country needs this shovel-ready project because it will create jobs, boost our national security, and spur economic growth," Gerard explained. "It's a win-win proposition."
Gerard contends that if Keystone XL gets approved, Canadian crude deliveries to the United States by 2020 would be twice what the country gets from the Middle East.
"Enhancing our energy partnership with Canada will strengthen America's energy future," he said.
Ben Gotschall, energy director for Keystone XL opponent Bold Nebraska, said this week TransCanada and its supporters have grossly exaggerated the economic benefits for the project.
TransCanada's first leg of Keystone, which passes through Nebraska, has only generated $2.2 million in revenue, though the company, Gotschall said, promised about twice that amount. The same, he said, holds for employment figures.
"The people of this state are more intelligent than you apparently give us credit for," he said in a letter to TransCanada.