North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven, a Republican who helped organize the letter, said there’s been no response from the White House, which declined to comment.
Meanwhile, the ratings agency Moody’s says it expects Obama will eventually approve the pipeline, but it won’t be quick. Take too long to approve the permitting, Moody’s warned in a November report, and Obama risks missing the boom in oil prices that instigated the pipeline in the first place.
Estimates for how many jobs the pipeline would create range from a few thousand up to 20,000 or more. At 36 inches in diameter, the pipeline will have an initial capacity of 700,000 barrels a day. That’s significant, because demand for oil and gas pipelines is expected to surge over the next four years, according to a November report by The Freedonia Group, a market research firm.
A TransCanada spokesman said the company expects a decision by the State Department, which is tasked with determining whether the pipeline is in the national interest, in the first quarter of 2013, and hopes to start construction on the upper portion shortly thereafter. The longer the decision drags on, the less realistic that timeline appears to be.
Officials in Nebraska are close to completing their own study of the revised route, with a public hearing planned for Dec. 4 ahead of a final decision by Gov. Dave Heineman.
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