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North Dakota's senators call for legislative action to pass the Keystone XL pipeline following presidential rejection of the project.

Instead of letting the decision fall to the next administration, President Barack Obama chose Friday to reject TransCanada's application to build the pipeline after the company asked for a pause in the seven-year review process.

Now, Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., are calling for veto-proof legislation to pass the project, which would transport 830,000 barrels of oil per day, including 100,000 barrels of Bakken crude per day to the Gulf Coast, through the halls of Congress rather than the White House.

“President Obama’s denial of the Keystone XL pipeline project today following the company’s request to suspend its application is not surprising, but it is disappointing," Hoeven said in a statement. “Clearly, the administration is making a political decision when it comes to Keystone, rather than following the legal and regulatory process."

Last time both houses passed legislation to approve Keystone, it was four votes shy of overriding the president's veto.

When that next legislative try happens hinges on several factors, said Heitkamp, adding that Congress should first gauge the new Canadian administration's views on Keystone and TransCanada's readiness to proceed to make sure they have legislative success.

Heitkamp said it will be interesting to see the new prime minister's reaction. The former administration had threatened to launch a trade complaint.

“I believe that ultimately the project will be approved based on the merits and strong support from the public,” Hoeven said.

Heitkamp said she would also like to explore legislative change to the permitting process as a whole.

"We desperately need change in this process," said Heitkamp, adding that it has been too politicized for too long.

Heitkamp said changes could give companies more regulatory certainty for future projects.

"We rejected state-of-the-art energy infrastructure; that doesn’t bode well," she said.

“I’m not at all surprised by the President’s announcement nor am I surprised by the timing of it ... This announcement only makes the obvious official," Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said in a statement.

 

(Reach Jessica Holdman at 701-250-8261 or jessica.holdman@bismarcktribune.com)

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Business Reporter