A high-profile group of senators - nine Democrats and nine Republicans - has urged President Barack Obama to quickly issue a permit for the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that environmental groups have vowed to fight.
The senators asked Obama to approve the pipeline because it will reduce the need for oil imports from the Middle East, and create jobs. They were led by Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, and John Hoeven, a North Dakota Republican, who both represent the booming Bakken oil region.
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Last year, Obama put a hold on the pipeline designed to carry oil from Canada and the Bakken region, citing environmental concerns with a portion of the route in Nebraska. The TransCanada Corp project needs a presidential permit because it would cross an international border. (Reporting by Roberta Rampton; editing by Matthew Lewis)