Republican Sen. Hoeven helps lead bipartisan effort asking Obama to OK Keystone

Republican Sen. John Hoeven on Saturday urged President Obama to end his election rhetoric and fulfill of the will of the American people by approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Hoeven is part of the bipartisan group of 18 senators that asked the president Friday in a letter to meet with them in hopes of convincing him to approve the northern leg of the Canada-to-Texas pipeline.

Estimates show the 1,700-mile-long pipeline could create thousands of new jobs and carry 830,000 barrels of oil daily -- 100,000 of which are from North Dakota and Montana.

“This is about more energy, job creation, economic activity, generating taxes, national security -- all of the above,” The North Dakota senator told “That’s why the president needs to approve it.”

Hoeven doesn’t agree with the notion that Mitt Romney’s campaign promised that he would approve the pipeline his first day in office has created more political headwinds for the long-delayed project.

“The pressure is on the president,” Hoeven said. “He has to decide whether he wants to answers to the American people or special interest groups.”

Environmentalists have argued since the project was introduced more than four years ago that construction would harm the environment.

However, a new route through an environmentally-sensitive stretch of Nebraska is almost complete and soon awaits approval by the state, then final approval by the president.

“We’re into the fifth year,” Hoeven said. “The pressure continues to mount. We’ve met all the requirements including the route through Nebraska.”

Recent polls show varying support.

A poll for the American Petroleum found 75 percent of voters favored the construction of the pipeline compared to 17 percent who did not.

However a Zogby poll released this week by the National Wildlife Federation found independent voters by a 4-1 margin still prefer renewable energies such as wind and solar power over Keystone.

The pipeline would move the crude oil from Alberta, Canada, as well as the Bakken fields in Montana and North Dakota to Gulf Coast refineries.

Hoeven said the project would also take 500 oil trucks a day off the congested roads in the Bakken region and improve the county’s national security by making it less dependent on Middle East oil.

The president could make a decision by January, after delaying the project last fall.

Among the senators asking for the meeting is senior Montana Sen. Max Baucus.

“We want to work together to keep creating jobs, and Keystone XL is one vital piece of the puzzle,” the letter states. “Setting politics aside: Nothing has changed about the thousands of jobs that Keystone XL will create.”

In addition, the International Energy Agency predicted this week that the United States will in five years surpass Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer and become energy self-sufficient by 2035.

The letter -- signed by nine Democrats and nine Republicans -- also asks Obama to follow through on his March 22 directive to federal agencies telling them to move forward with “vital energy infrastructure like Keystone XL.”