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Keystone XL gets backing from ATR

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement at the White House, in Washington DC, on December 17, 2011. The Senate approved a two-month payroll tax cut and extension of unemployment benefits with a provision that requires President Obama to make a decision on the Keystone XL oil pipeline within two months. UPI/Michael Reynolds/Pool
1 of 2 | U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement at the White House, in Washington DC, on December 17, 2011. The Senate approved a two-month payroll tax cut and extension of unemployment benefits with a provision that requires President Obama to make a decision on the Keystone XL oil pipeline within two months. UPI/Michael Reynolds/Pool | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Building the Keystone XL pipeline through the United States means less oil imports from countries like Venezuela, a pro-business group claims.

U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., said he received a letter expressing support for the Keystone XL oil pipeline from the Americans for Tax Reform and the American Iron and Steel Institute.

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ATR Director Grover Norquist, in his letter, said Keystone XL would create 20,000 jobs "immediately" and "likely displace some of the heavy crude oil America imports from countries like Venezuela."

Lugar and Republicans in the House of Representatives are pushing the White House to sign off on Canadian pipeline company TransCanada's plans to build the pipeline.

U.S. President Barack Obama denied TransCanada's permit because of an "arbitrary" deadline imposed by House Republicans in a measure extending payroll tax benefits.

Critics of the project say oil from Canada is the dirtiest form of crude oil. Supporters say it would free up a crude oil bottleneck at a major oil hub in Cushing, Okla.

TransCanada, in a statement outlining its fourth quarter earnings, said it had secured "firm, long-term contracts" for around 1.1 million barrels per day for the Keystone XL pipeline.

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The pipeline company said it would reapply for a U.S. permit for the project. The start-up date, however, was pushed from late 2014 to early 2015.

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