SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota's Republican members of Congress said the latest State Department report on the Keystone XL oil pipeline should prompt the president to approve the project, but the state's Democratic senator said the report was just one step in a long decision-making process.
A report released Friday by the department raised no major environmental objections to the proposed $7 billion pipeline that would run from Canada through the heart of the U.S., including across South Dakota.
Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson said people and agencies now have the chance to weigh in on whether the project is in the national interest.
"Because the pipeline would run through western South Dakota, directly impacting many in our state, I have long believed that a thorough and fair process is critical before a final decision is made," he said in an emailed statement.
Republican Sen. John Thune said people from both political parties back the project that would support more than 40,000 jobs, so it's time to move ahead.
"President Barack Obama could create thousands of jobs with his signature but has catered to far-left special interest groups for five years," Thune said in a news release.
Rep. Kristi Noem said Obama is running out of excuses.
"It's in our nation's best interest to get this pipeline up and running as soon as possible," the Republican said in a release.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard said he also thinks the project should move forward.
"I hope the President will seriously consider the State Department's report and allow the construction of the pipeline," he said in an emailed statement.
The Keystone pipeline was designed to carry tar sands oil from Canada across Montana, from northwest to southeast South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
Paul Seamans, of Draper, who farms and ranches on land the line would cut across, said he still thinks the project threatens underground water supplies and there's no guarantee that the oil won't be exported.
"I think once it gets to the Gulf it will go on the open market, so that kind of blows the argument that the pipeline is going to lessen our reliance on foreign oil and is a matter of national security," said Seamans, also board chairman of Dakota Rural Action, an environmental and farm group.
The best hope for opponents is in Nebraska, where there are concerns over the route's path through the fragile Sandhills region, he said.
"I'm putting my hopes in them, and the fact that President Obama is environmentally inclined," Seamans said.