* Senator says pipeline critical for energy security
* Pipeline project pushed back due to permitting delays
* Enviro groups say pipeline raises safety concerns
By Ayesha Rascoe
WASHINGTON, Feb 16 A leading Republican Senator
on Wednesday called for the White House to approve the Keystone
pipeline that would transport crude from Canadian oil sands to
the Gulf coast.
Senator Dick Lugar, the top Republican on the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee, said the State Department should
move to quickly approve TransCanada's (TRP.TO) application to
build the 2,000-mile Keystone XL pipeline.
"Boosting trade with Canada offers tremendous opportunity
to improve our energy security," Lugar said in a speech to the
Alliance to Save Energy.
"This pipeline is critical to American efforts to enhance
the reliability of our oil supplies," he added.
Lugar said the United States is too dependent on oil from
hostile nations and the government must work to decrease
vulnerability to supply shocks from the Middle East.
TransCanada on Tuesday said permitting delays have pushed
the timeline for the start-up of the pipeline back by about
three months, with the line now unlikely to be in service
before the second-quarter of 2013. [ID:nL3E7DF1GA]
The State Department is still reviewing its draft
environmental analysis of the project. The department said this
week it plans to complete this review during the first quarter
of 2011 and then will decide whether supplemental analysis is
The pipeline has run into stiff opposition from green
groups and some lawmakers who say the pipeline poses an
environmental threat and would lock the United States into
dependence on "dirty oil" from Canadian oil sands.
Oil sands pipeline companies are putting a product through
their lines that raises the risks of leaks and spills, a report
by the Natural Resources Defense Council and other green groups
The report, "Tar Sands Pipelines Safety Risks," said
increasingly pipelines transporting oil sands crude into the
United States are carrying diluted bitumen. They say that is
more corrosive and acidic than average crudes. Pipelines
should take special precautions until regulators address the
risks, it said.
Terry Cunha, a TransCanada spokesman, said the company
transports a mixture of heavy crude and light bitumen from the
oil sands but he denied that it was any different that crude
oil that is currently being distributed across the United
States. "Any information about our crude being any different is
false," Cunha said.
(Additional reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by David