Pryor, Cotton call for Keystone Pipeline to open

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 12, 2014 at 3:11 pm •  Published: May 12, 2014
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Two opponents in the hotly-contested Arkansas U.S. Senate race joined with officials from a pipe manufacturer Monday to press for approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would move crude oil from Canada to U.S. refineries.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor and Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, who is challenging Pryor, appeared together at Welspun Corp.'s 800-acre campus at the Port of Little Rock, where they called on President Barack Obama to approve the pipeline project.

Welspun Tubular LLC President and CEO David Delie showed reporters 358 miles of pipe made for TransCanada, the company building the pipeline, that's stacked up on 80 acres adjacent to an idle factory.

"If that pipeline was approved, we'd be running the mill right now," Delie said. "This is costing jobs here and changing the business model for everybody."

Critics of the pipeline want the project called off out of concern that it will put groundwater at risk and add to pollution.

The pipeline, 36 inches in diameter and 1,179 miles long, would run from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Nebraska. Trans Canada says the line will send Canadian crude oil to refineries in the United States and provide opportunities for growth in crude production in Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas.

A segment from Steele City to storage facilities in Cushing, Oklahoma, is already complete. The line would connect to Texas refineries along the Gulf Coast.

Pryor and Cotton, who are running expensive and bitter campaigns, each said the Keystone XL would provide jobs and a safer way than railcars or older pipelines to transport Canadian oil to refineries.

Cotton accused Obama of "ideological foot-dragging," saying the president is following the wishes of the left in the Democratic Party.

Pryor said giving the pipeline the green light makes sense on a number of levels, adding that he's been "in a different place" than the president on the issue.

"It's by far the safest and most economical thing to do," Pryor said.

An energy efficiency bill was expected to come to a vote Monday in the U.S. Senate, and Pryor boarded a plane headed back to Washington, D.C., after the event at Welspun.