By Rob Port | WatchDog.org North Dakota Bureau
BISMARCK, N.D. — An outspoken supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline says he’s more pessimistic than ever about it being approved under President Barack Obama.
“I used to be very optimistic about it,” Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-ND, said in an interview. “I guess I would put it at less than 50-50 because it’s just that at every turn them seem to try to find a reason to try and delay it longer.”
Train derailments, including one in Casselton in December, has led to calls from the National Transportation Safety Board for improved infrastructure and for those trains loaded with crude oil to be rerouted away from populated areas.
According to an analysis by the Russian Times of data from the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, train derailments in America spilled more oil in 2013 than the previous four decades combined.
Of the 1.5 million gallons of oil spilled by train derailment in 2013, the Casselton derailment accounted for an estimated 400,000 gallons, while a derailment in Alabama accounted for another 750,000 gallons.
From 1975 to 2010 there was an estimated total of 800,000 barrels of oil spilled in America by train derailment.
Many observers point to these derailments as evidence of a need for additional energy infrastructure, including pipelines.
Cramer said the only possible reason for continued delay is politics.
“At this point there’s no more possible studying you could do,” he said. “It’s by far the most studied and analyzed and environmental impact studied pipeline in the history of the world,” Cramer said. “I don’t know what more you could possibly learn.”
Still, Cramer said there is hope for the beleaguered project’s approval if the political winds in Washington, D.C., shift.
“Could it be approved? I think to be honest with you this is a clear example of the consequences of elections,” he said. “If the United States Senate switches control to the Republican Party, it’ll be largely over issues like this.”
All that’s needed for the project to win approval, Cramer said, is for a bill authorizing the project to be brought to the Senate for a vote.
He said that if the Keystone pipeline could get a vote in the Senate, it would pass easily.
“I think it’s almost a veto-proof bill,” he said. “If in fact the Senate was to switch parties over things like the Keystone and energy issues, as well as Obamacare issues, I think the president would take pause and ask if (he wants) to spend (his) last two years (in office) fighting and doing nothing or moving our economy forward.”
Contact Rob Port at [email protected]