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John Kerry
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is reviewing the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline ahead of the Obama administration’s decision on whether to permit the controversial project. His committee oversees the State Department, the agency vetting TransCanada Corporation’s proposed $7 billion, 1,700-mile pipeline to bring crude from Alberta’s oil sands projects to Gulf Coast refineries. Kerry says, "I’ll do my best to leave no question unanswered including every possible economic and environmental consideration before a final decision is made.” The State Department hopes to make a final decision by the end of the year.

Friends of the Earth has a new website that urges people to call Kerry’s office about the pipeline.  The website encourages callers to urge Kerry to use his Foreign Relations perch to hold State “accountable,” and back the call for a inspector general probe.

The Foreign Relations Committee has been conducting regular oversight of the permitting process because of concerns about Keystone XL. The committee has hosted several briefings with the State Department to discuss the environmental impact assessments as well as the process for determining the national interest.

Business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute are lobbying in favor of the project, arguing it would create scores of jobs while improving energy security by expanding imports from a friendly neighbor. Canada is already the largest supplier of oil to the U.S. TransCanada claims the pipeline would create 20,000 jobs and is emphasizing that it would operate under strict safety standards. But environmental groups, which have called the jobs estimates inflated, oppose the pipeline due to greenhouse gas emissions, forest damage and other impacts from oil sands projects, as well as the potential for pipeline spills that could contaminate farmland and drinking water in states along the route. (The Hill, 10/27/2011)