The Washington Times - February 7, 2013, 11:26AM

House Republicans now are citing yet another reason President Obama should approve the massive Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline project: national security.

In a letter to Mr. Obama on Wednesday night, Rep. Edward R. Royce, California Republican and House Foreign Relations Committee chairman, joined with the other two dozen GOP members on the panel to urge the administration to “move forward on this very important energy project” immediately.

SEE RELATED:


“Keystone XL would also advance our national security. By providing secure access to petroleum from Canada, we would reduce our reliance on energy imports from countries in the OPEC cartel. The U.S. would be less vulnerable to political and security-related disruptions of our energy supply,” the Republicans argued.

“Further hesitation in approving Keystone XL would not only ensure higher economic costs, but enhance the fortunes of economic rivals, as Chinese state-owned oil companies and others race to secure permanent access to North American energy sources.”

The Keystone project would bring Canadian oil sands through the U.S. to Gulf Coast refineries. Mr. Royce and others fear that if the White House continues to delay approval of the project, Canadian leaders will seek out other customers.

Nebraska GOP Gov. Dave Heineman recently signed off on the route for the pipeline through his state, clearing the only remaining hurdle outside of approval by the administration, but leading environmentalist groups have launched a strong campaign to block the completion of the project.

“Canadian authorities eager to develop these valuable resources will move ahead, with or without United States participation. In fact, our ally to the north has openly stated that it has already begun to shift its long-term planning for energy exports away from the U.S. and toward Asia,” the GOP letter reads in part.

The pipeline is now under review at the State Department, where new Secretary of State John F. Kerry, a noted climate-change advocate, will have a significant say in whether it’s approved. Following the State Department review, which is expected to be released soon, the pipeline would head to the White House, but a final decision isn’t expected until summer, at the earliest.