* Republican lawmakers bemoan lack of focus in notice

* TransCanada: only Nebraska portion of line needs review

* Environmental group urges broad look at issues

By Roberta Rampton and Scott Haggett

WASHINGTON/CALGARY, Alberta, June 15 (Reuters) - The scope of a planned environmental review of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada could go beyond a small disputed portion in Nebraska and threatens to delay the project further, its Republican backers in Congress said on Friday.

The State Department asked on Friday for public comments by the end of July to help determine the scope of an environmental review ordered earlier this year for the controversial pipeline. The review is designed to supplement a "final" environmental impact report issued last August.

Republicans suggested the State Department request could expand the review beyond an 88-mile (140-km) portion of the route through Nebraska that has been altered because of environmental concerns.

"In essence they're saying, 'OK, now we're going to start all over again,'" Senator John Hoeven, a Republican from North Dakota, said in an interview.

"Who knows how long it's going to take them?" said Hoeven, who has championed efforts in Congress to get fast-track approval for the project.

TransCanada Corp's pipeline was designed to carry crude from Canada's oilsands and from the Bakken oilfields in North Dakota and Montana to Texas refineries.

After four years of environmental reviews, and months of high-profile protests from environmental groups, President Barack Obama put a hold on the project in January.

Obama said concerns raised by Nebraska, where the pipeline was initially proposed to go over a sensitive aquifer, warranted additional study, although he did allow the southernmost leg of the pipeline to go ahead.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has made the pipeline part of his stump speeches, saying he would immediately approve the project if elected because of the construction jobs it would create and the oil it would bring from Canada.

The State Department notice could further aggravate tensions among lawmakers trying to negotiate a new transportation spending law by June 30.

Republicans want to include a provision to speed approval of the pipeline as part of the $109 billion Senate-passed package for road, bridge and rail projects.

"Keystone needs to be part of it," said Hoeven, who is part of the Senate-House panel negotiating the package.

TRANSCANADA SAYS ONLY NEBRASKA NEEDS REVIEW

TransCanada downplayed the potential of additional delay, noting the State Department's notice indicated the review would be a "supplement" to the final environmental impact study completed in August 2011.

"By its terms, this does not represent a restart of the entire (environmental review) process," said Shawn Howard, a spokesman for TransCanada.

The only new element needing review was the revised route through Nebraska, the company said.

The State Department said its study would focus on the new Nebraska route but could also examine any other new significant environmental concerns.

The department reiterated on its website that it would need until the first quarter of 2013 to complete the review process.

"We will conduct our review efficiently, using existing analysis as appropriate," the department said.

The State Department also said it would look at the pipeline's impact on any national historic places or "cultural resources."

But Fred Upton, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee, said the review's parameters were not yet clear.

"By not limiting the scope of the review to just the new Nebraska segment, the entire project could become tangled in unnecessary review and red tape, and subjected to attacks and stalling tactics by opponents," Upton said in a statement.

The National Wildlife Federation wants the State Department to take a hard look at the project, Joe Mendelson, the group's director of climate and energy policy, said in a statement.

"For starters, the State Department must thoroughly analyze the safety issues involved with transporting corrosive tar sands in the pipeline, account for the increased carbon emissions that will speed global warming," Mendelson said.

The group also wants additional study of risks to endangered species and more consultation with American Indian tribes, he said.

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  • Dalai Lama

    In September, the Dalai Lama was one of nine Nobel Peace Prize laureates who <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/09/07/nobel-peace-prize-winners_n_952248.html" target="_hplink">sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama</a> urging him "to say 'no' to the plan proposed by the Canadian-based company TransCanada to build the Keystone XL, and to turn [his] attention back to supporting renewable sources of energy and clean transportation solutions."

  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu

    Archbishop Desmond Tutu was among<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/09/28/nobel-prize-winners-oil-sands_n_985171.html" target="_hplink"> a group of Nobel Peace Prize laureates</a> who signed letters to both U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, urging the men to stop the Keystone pipeline.

  • Al Gore

    Gore has said it is essential to stop the Keystone pipeline because the tar sands oil it would carry is "the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/al-gore/the-dirtiest-fuel-on-the-_b_944186.html" target="_hplink">dirtiest source of fuel on the planet</a>."

  • Robert Redford

    Actor and environmentalist <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000602/" target="_hplink">Robert Redford</a> recently added his name to the list of prominent individuals who are calling on President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/24/robert-redford-keystone-xl_n_1019789.html" target="_hplink">In a video for <em>The New York Times</em>, produced with the Natural Resources Defense Council</a>, Redford described the negative aspects of the proposed tar sands pipeline and said, "By deepening our reliance on oil, the pipeline would be a job killer." Redford has previously been vocal about calling for alternatives to oil. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-redford/keystone-xl-pipeline_b_978835.html" target="_hplink">Writing last month for HuffPost</a>, he said, "Let's build the next generation of energy efficient cars, homes and workplaces. Let's develop wind, solar and other cleaner, safer, more sustainable sources of power and fuel. Let's invest in high-speed rail and smart communities that give us better transportation options."

  • Mark Ruffalo

    Actor <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0749263/" target="_hplink">Mark Ruffalo</a>, famous for films like "<a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0842926/" target="_hplink">The Kids Are All Right</a>" and "<a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0443706/" target="_hplink">Zodiac</a>," is also an outspoken activist and opponent of the Keystone XL pipeline. Ruffalo <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/11/mark-ruffalo-tar-sands_n_924245.html" target="_hplink">said in a video</a> for the <a href="http://www.tarsandsaction.org/" target="_hplink">Tar Sands Action</a> group, "I've seen the kind of damage that out-of-control energy development can do to water and to communities near my own home, where fracking for natural gas is causing widespread pollution ... All these problems are connected -- we need to get off fossil fuels." In the past, Ruffalo has also expressed his ire for hydraulic fracturing natural gas extraction, or fracking. He told The Huffington Post, "The <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/18/mark-ruffalo-fights-frack_n_810461.html" target="_hplink">world is already leaving us behind</a>. We're being left behind. America. Because the gas and oil industry has a strangle hold on us. And our politicians."

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  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus

    <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000506/" target="_hplink">Julia Louis-Dreyfus</a>, known for her role as Elaine on the popular sitcom "Seinfeld," has released a video urging President Obama to reject the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. Dreyfus recalls when Obama said "Let us be the generation that ends the tyranny of oil." But she says, "Big Oil is still pretty much running the show." She claims that by rejecting the pipeline, Obama has a chance to "make good on [his] word." <a href="http://www.tarsandsaction.org/video-release-julia-louis-dreyfus-challenges-pres-obama-stop-keystone-xl/" target="_hplink">Louis-Dreyfus asks Obama</a>, "Denying the permit for a brutally stupid, money-grab like the Keystone XL pipeline is a no-brainer, right Mr President?"

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