As recently as last week, U. S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, speaking in Niles, talked about the need to re-duce the country’s depend-ence on foreign oil and re-ferred to the proposed $7 billion Keystone XL Can-ada-to-Texas pipeline project as a “no-brainer.’’
U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Granger, also talked about his support for the pipeline after a business panel dis-cussion last week in South Bend.
So it was no surprise they were less than thrilled Wednesday when President Obama temporarily blocked the project, citing environ-mental concerns and his un-happiness with a Republican mandate that a decision be reached by Feb. 21. The chairman of the House En-ergy and Commerce Com-mittee, Upton called for Sec-retary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who rec-ommended Obama’s deci-sion, to testify at a hearing before his committee.
Also, he and other Repub-licans on the committee an-nounced their intent to move forward on legislation to re-start the project.
In a three-paragraph statement, Upton said he was “outraged’’ that Obama would delay what he called a “job-creating, shovel-ready project.’’
“The pipeline has been carefully vetted, environmen-tally scrutinized and publicly discussed for more than three years. The American people cannot wait any longer,’’ he said. “Gasoline prices have nearly doubled over the past three years and they are expected to go higher moving forward.
“Canada is our ally and closest trading partner, and it would be foolish to let this pro-jobs, pro-energy project slip through our fingers now. Canada is developing these resources one way or an-other. If we don’t work with Canada on this, then China will.’’
Upton said the pipeline would carry 1.4 million bar-rels of oil each day to U.S. refineries. The project also would create 20,000 con-struction and manufacturing jobs, he said, plus thousands of spin-off jobs.
Donnelly said he was “very disappointed” in the president’s decision.
“They are missing an op-portunity to create thou-sands of jobs in America,” he said in a statement.
“Additionally, this project would result in our sending less than the many billions of dollars we send to Middle East dictators each year for energy resources,” he contin-ued. “We should keep those dollars here at home. I hope the Obama administration will reconsider this decision because our nation’s econ-omy needs this boost.”
Coats said it’s “impossible to understand” the presi-dent’s decision.
“It is both irrational and disingenuous for an admini-stration that claims its No. 1 priority is jobs to block a project that would put thou-sands of Americans back to work,” Coats said in a state-ment.
In a formal statement on his decision, Obama was critical of Republicans for at-tempting to force his hand on the issue.
“This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbi-trary nature of a deadline that prevented the State De-partment from gathering the information necessary to ap-prove the project and protect the American people,’’ he said. “I’m disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision.’’
Lugar said the president has had plenty of time to consider the pipeline issue.
“The Obama administra-tion complains about a 60-day deadline, but in reality it has now had 1,217 days to make a decision,” Lugar said in a statement.
Tribune staff writer Kevin Allen and the Associated Press contributed to this re-port.
Staff writer Lou Mumford: