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Obama called on to drop KXL veto threat

White House vows to let vetting procedure run its normal course.

By Daniel J. Graeber

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- The American Petroleum Institute called on President Obama to reconsider his threat to veto the Keystone XL oil pipeline amid congressional support.

On Monday, the U.S. Senate approved a bill authored by Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Joe Machin, D-W. Va., that calls for swift approval of the pipeline.

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The White House threatened to veto any legislation meant to move the process around normal vetting procedures through the U.S. State Department. A Nebraska court last week cleared one of the last hurdles slowing the federal review process.

"We encourage the president to reconsider his veto threat and approve the KXL project and the thousands of jobs and enhanced energy security that will follow," API President and Chief Executive Officer Jack Gerard said in a statement issued after the Senate bill passed late Monday.

Hoeven helped pass similar bipartisan legislation in support of the pipeline, most recently in the last Congress with former Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who was defeated in a runoff election. That legislation faced an uncertain future in a full Senate controlled by Democrats, though both chambers of the 114th Congress are controlled by Republicans.

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Deputy White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in the wake of the Nebraska ruling the vetting process was established by previous administrations, including those in the Republican Party.

"The president believes that the process should unfold at the State Department and that any legislative end-run around that process is misguided, and he will veto that bill," he said.

Supporters of the project say it will be a source of economic stimulus and enhance North American energy security. Detractors argue many of those claims are overstated. The president himself said the project would serve largely as an export pipeline for Canadian crude oil.

Pipeline company TransCanada submitted an application to the U.S. government to build the cross-border project more than six years ago.

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