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Politics

Connie Mack Calls for Keystone Pipeline As New Rerouted Application Filed

May 3, 2012 - 6:00pm

U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers, seeking to take on U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Orlando, in November, continued to press the Keystone XL Pipeline issue against the incumbent, as a new application was filed for the political hot potato on Friday.

We know it will bring more oil to the United States; instead of buying it from Hugo Chavez and dictators and thugocrats around the world, we can buy it from a friend, Mack said outside a Shell gas station along the southern arc of Tallahassee's Capitol Circle on Friday. So were telling him to build it now.

Representatives for Nelson were not immediately available for comment.

Mack, who has opposed oil drilling off Floridas shoreline, has been hosting similar press conferences in other parts of Florida this week as Congress is out of session.

The argument is to drive home that building the $7 billion pipeline would lower gas prices and make the U.S. less dependent on foreign oil from Venezuela and the Middle East, Mack said.

The pipeline was first requested in 2008; not one but two environmental impact studies were done, Mack said. And after much gamesmanship the White House decided to side with the environmentalists over the people of the state of Florida and the American people.

Despite the intervening years of study, President Obama claimed more time was needed to look at safety and environmental impacts. He rejected the House attempt to authorize the construction of the pipeline, running from Canada to Texas refineries, in February.

On Friday, TransCanada refilled the application with the State Department, with the plans including a reworked route through Nebraska, where bipartisan efforts had opposed the initial plan to go through the sensitive Sandhills region and across the Ogallala Aquifer.

The new route is to travel east of the Sandhills.

In a release, the State Department officials on Friday stated that they would hire a third party to help review the new plan, with a determination for completion by the first quarter of 2013.

Mack has also been using his campaign stops to push a national online campaign to gather signatures supporting the pipeline and push his legislation to give Congress authority to approve the project.

An April 18 poll by Public Policy Polling, a firm with connections to prominent Democrats, placed Nelson with a 47-37 advantage over Mack, while the Orlando Democrat with four decades before voters was up 48-34 over former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux and 47-35 ahead of businessman and retired Army officer Mike McCalister.

Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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