By TENNILLE TRACY
Republicans are tightening the screws on President Barack Obama to make a decision on the controversial oil pipeline known as Keystone XL.
After passing legislation that forces the president to decide the fate of the pipeline within 60 days, House Republicans unveiled a "Keystone XL clock" Wednesday that - tick-tock, tick-tock - counts the seconds since the president signed the bill into law.
Wednesday morning, the clock flashed 12 days, 10 hours, 47 minutes and 27 ... 28 ... 29 seconds.
The clock, posted on the website of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, marks the latest effort by Republicans to pressure the president into approving the 1,700-mile oil pipeline, which would stretch from Canada to Texas and carry hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil every day.
TransCanada Corp., the company that wants to build the pipeline, applied for a permit in 2008. The State Department reviewed the project to determine whether it serves the national interest and pledged to make a decision on the project by the end of 2011.
But the president announced in November that his administration needed more time to consider alternative routes and delayed a decision until after the presidential elections.
The project has been opposed by environmental groups and citizen activists. The battle to defeat the pipeline culminated in a protest at the White House that attracted thousands of people.
Republicans accuse the president of succumbing to pressure from this wing of his supporters, and of playing politics with a project that they say will create 20,000 jobs.
"After waiting more than three years for this pipeline while the country faces prolonged unemployment, the American people are fed up with the president's inaction on a project that can quickly create jobs," said Rep. Fred Upton (R., Mich.), chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee.
Some Democrats, however, say Republicans have been exaggerating the number of jobs that will be created as a result of the pipeline project.
They accuse GOP members of being a mouthpiece for TransCanada and the influential lobby groups that represent the oil industry.
The 60-day clock started late last year, after Republicans fought and won a heated battle to include a deadline in a separate bill that extended payroll tax cuts.
Dow Jones Newswires