WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said Wednesday that the Obama administration should make a decision soon on the Keystone XL oil pipeline and that the decision should be to go ahead with the project.
"The time has come to make a decision," she said. "And hopefully the right decision, which is to approve the crossing."
The North Dakota Democrat's comments came after a meeting Wednesday with John Baird, Canada's foreign minister, and Gary Doer, the Canadian ambassador to the U.S.
The Canadian officials and Heitkamp agreed that the Keystone pipeline would be of great benefit to the U.S. and Canada.
The pipeline would transport oil from Canada's oil sands and the Bakken Shale in North Dakota to refineries in the Houston area. Environmental groups have seized on the proposed Canada-to-Texas pipeline as a major contributor to global warming. They also worry about spills of tar sands oil, which is heavier than conventional oil. Backers say the project would create jobs and boost North American energy independence.
The project is under review at the U.S. State Department.
But Baird said there had been enough analysis.
"We've gone through an exhaustive process and it is decision time," Baird said.
Heitkamp said she thinks the overall debate on Keystone has gone beyond the specific issues with the pipeline itself.
"It's a method of transporting oil," Heitkamp said of the Keystone project. "And now it's taken a persona that is much larger."
Heitkamp said she promised Baird and Doer she would press the issue on Capitol Hill.
The Keystone pipeline would transport "a product we can use from a country is friendly to the United States," she said.