Encouraged by the passage of a Senate budget amendment to approve the construction of the Keystone XL, Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) is touting his support for the controversial oil pipeline.
"The Keystone XL Pipeline is a no-brainer," Terry said in delivering the GOP's weekly address this past weekend. "It's passed muster through several environmental reviews. It's picked up support from a broad, grassroots coalition of unions and employers. Public backing has risen to 70 percent. And just last week, the Democratic-run Senate endorsed Keystone with a filibuster-proof [majority] of 62 votes -- a bipartisan show of support rarely seen in Washington."
Terry was referencing a measure introduced by Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) to approve the construction of the 1,700-mile pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Texas. The measure's passage, though nonbinding, put the Senate on record for the first time in support of the pipeline's construction. The vote was 62 to 37.
Environmentalists have denounced the draft environmental impact statement recently released by the State Department that concludes the pipeline would have minimal impact on the climate. Refining tar sands oil into a usable product requires a tremendous amount of energy and produces significant greenhouse gas emissions, they note, and its extraction is already creating an ecological nightmare in western Canada. What's more, jobs estimates for the Keystone XL may be overblown. And people living along the pipeline's proposed route -- including in Nebraska -- are raising their concerns about leaks and other risks to their communities.
One of the pipeline's most outspoken supporters, Terry first took up the issue in 2011 during a brainstorming session for top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Since then, the Keystone XL has become the most politicized environmental policy issue in Washington, something Terry himself didn't see coming, according to The Omaha World Herald. Now he's casting last week's Senate vote as a mandate for President Barack Obama to approve the pipeline's construction.
"The people in the Congress have spoken," said Terry, adding, "If the president continues to drag his feet, Congress is prepared to act."
Watch Terry's full radio address above.