A bill extending payroll tax benefits gave U.S. President Barack Obama until the middle of February to decide if the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline is in the national interest.
Canadian pipeline company TransCanada wants to build the pipeline to transit oil from tar sands projects in Alberta to refineries along the southern U.S. coast.
Its backers said it would increase U.S. energy security while providing jobs in a weak economic climate. Critics say crude oil from Alberta is one of the dirtiest types of crude. Crews are still cleaning up a 2010 Alberta crude oil spill in Michigan, in part because that type of crude sinks in water.
U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House energy and commerce committee, writes in the Kalamazoo (Mich.) Gazette, a newspaper in a city dealing with the 2010 spill, that safety is a top priority.
"Particularly as we look at projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline, we need to make sure it and all pipelines are safe and secure," he writes.
Upton added energy demand is expected to rise as the U.S. economy emerges from recession, suggesting infrastructure like Keystone XL is needed.
"The ball remains in the Obama administration's court to approve the Keystone project and unfortunately the shot clock is running down," he writes.