By Brent Martin
Congressman Adrian Smith says his recent tour of the Third Congressional District convinces him that support for the Keystone XL pipeline is growing in Nebraska.
Three landowners this week filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn new oil pipeline regulations being used to restart work to find an alternative route for Keystone through the state. The lawsuit claims the law violates the state constitutional provisions for separation of powers and due process.
Smith has traveled his district periodically this month when Congress takes breaks in Washington. He tells Nebraska Radio Network the pipeline comes up during his discussions with constituents.
Despite some vocal opposition, Smith has heard a lot of support for the pipeline.
"I sense that that support is building, because there's a greater understanding that too many politics are being played in Washington, and especially with the president delaying the decision, rather than getting the job done and utilizing today's technology to implement some infrastructure that can help our economy," Smith says.
Smith says it seems many in Congress have grown weary of the Obama Administration's delay tactics.
"I'm guessing that the president is wanting this issue to be resolved, politically," Smith says. "Now, he has engaged in delaying, hoping that he can just stall the decision until after the election and yet, there is pressure growing on both sides of the political aisle to get the job done."
Recent public opinion polling indicates broad-based support for the oil pipeline, with Republicans indicating the strongest support. Democrats seem more split on the issue, but still tilt toward favoring it.
TransCanada proposes building an oil pipeline 1,700 miles from western Canada to oil refineries along the Gulf Coast in Texas. The company needs a presidential permit to proceed with the $7billion project, because it will cross the border. Nebraska officials have reached agreement with TransCanada to re-route the pipeline away from the Sand Hills.
Smith says many in Congress have grown tired of the delaying tactics used by the Obama Administration.
"I believe the president has personally lobbied the Senate to delay this decision," Smith says. "Our economy, whether it's the highway bill or whether it's the pipeline, our economy cannot afford to just keep delaying these important decisions."
A Senate-House conference committee is trying to reach agreement on a transportation bill. The Senate approved a $109 billion two-year bill. The House has approved a $260 billion five-year bill that contains a provision to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. The conference committee hopes to reach agreement by June.