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Letter: Keystone in best interest of North Dakota and nation

Last week, I introduced legislation with 44 cosponsors in the U.S. Senate to approve the Keystone XL pipeline under Congress's authority in the U.S. Constitution. We secured an opinion from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service to confirm Congress's constitutional authority to do so.

Our bill authorizes TransCanada to construct the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to U.S. refineries, transporting an additional 830,000 barrels of oil per day, including 100,000 barrels a day from the Bakken region. That's key, because providing additional pipeline capacity and gathering systems will take about 500 trucks a day off oil patch roads, improving public safety on our western highways.

The Keystone XL project is also vital for the nation. It will reduce our dependence on Middle East oil, hold down fuel costs for consumers and create thousands of jobs for American workers.

The Keystone XL project has been under review since September 2008, yet despite a long environmental review, President Barack Obama said the 60-day provision Congress included in the payroll tax cut extension bill passed in December didn't give him enough time. Let's be clear. He and his administration have been reviewing the project for over three years.

That's why my colleagues and I are compelled to act again, introducing new legislation that will move the project forward with congressional approval.

Our new bill includes all federal and state safeguards and sets no time limit on Nebraska's ability to further review the pipeline's route through their state.

If the Keystone XL pipeline isn't built, Canadian oil will still be produced, but instead of coming to U.S. refineries, creating American jobs, and reducing our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, it will be shipped to China.

Contrary to the claims of some critics, who assert this oil will be re-exported from the U.S., the Keystone will deliver Canadian crude oil to American refineries where it will be refined into fuel --- and our nation needs both crude oil and refined product.

I've worked toward Keystone XL's approval, first as governor, and now as a U.S. senator, because I believe it is the kind of project that will grow our economy and create jobs in the right way -- through private-sector investment. I will continue to work with my colleagues in both chambers to make sure it's completed.

Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), Washington, D.C.