Keystone pipeline back in Obama's hands

The new route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline was approved Tuesday by Kansas Republican Gov. Dave Heineman completing the local environmental review process and putting the final approval back into the hands of President Barack Obama.

Heineman told Obama in a letter that the new route will avoid fragile areas and that the pipeline would bring $418 million in economic benefits including $16 million in use taxes.

Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill, who urged Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to complete the final process to approve the federal permit needed to begin construction, applauded the decision.

???Nebraska???s approval of a new Keystone XL pipeline route means there is no bureaucratic excuse, hurdle, or catch President Obama can use to delay this project any further,??? said House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). ???He and he alone stands in the way of tens of thousands of new jobs and energy security. Every state along the proposed route supports this project, as does a bipartisan coalition in Congress and a majority of Americans.  I recognize all the political pressure the president faces, but with our energy security at stake and many jobs in limbo, he should find a way to say yes.???

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The project was initially rejected by the Obama administration on Jan. 18, 2012 after intense pressure from environmental groups who opposed the pipeline???s original route. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) said in a joint statement that the governor???s stamp of approval should alleviate any lingering concerns about the pipeline???s route near delicate aquifers.

???The pipeline route has been thoroughly studied and found to be environmentally sound,??? the lawmakers said.

Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Nev.) said that with the state???s exhaustive environmental reviews completed, the ball is in Obama???s court.

???It is time to give it the final green light. I hope President Obama will swiftly approve the project so we can take a significant step forward in meeting our energy needs,??? Johanns said.