WASHINGTON, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- A decision on the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada should be a "no-brainer" for a U.S. president committed to job growth, a lawmaker said.
U.S. lawmakers are kicking a measure that would extend a payroll tax cut back and forth. A bill on the payroll tax cut included a provision inserted by Republican leaders that gives the White House less than two months to decide on the Keystone XL pipeline.
Canadian pipeline company TransCanada wants to build the pipeline to carry oil from tar sands projects in Canada to refineries along the southern U.S. coast.
Critics say so-called tar sands oil is the dirtiest type of oil. Backers say it would improve regional energy security while providing thousands of jobs to the U.S. economy, though figures vary.
"It has taken 1,188 days and counting for the Obama administration to make a decision that this is a no brainer for America's national security and job creation," he said.
The White House gave the U.S. State Department authority to issue a final decision on Keystone XL. Concerns that the originally planned route would pass through an aquifer in Nebraska prompted another look at the project. This, the State Department said, means it could be at least another year -- until after U.S. elections -- before a decision is made on the pipeline.
TransCanada, in statements last weekend, said it's a matter of whether the United States wants its oil from the conflict-prone Middle East or from Canada.
The White House says the timeframe spelled out by Republican leaders doesn't give it enough time to make an informed decision. Lugar said that was "blatantly misleading."