The top Republican in Congress wrote to President Barack Obama on Tuesday to urge him to "change course" and approve a controversial oil pipeline, seeking to keep up election-year pressure on the Democrat amid rising gasoline prices. U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner also said Obama should fulfill his promise of an "all of the above" approach to ease U.S. dependence on foreign oil and drop opposition to legislation expanding domestic production.
Republicans have intensified their attacks on Obama's energy policies in recent days, focusing on rising gasoline prices that could hurt Obama's re-election prospects in the November 6 face-off against the eventual Republican presidential nominee.
"To provide greater energy security, I would urge you to change course and expeditiously approve the pipeline permit as soon as the application has been filed," Boehner said in a letter to the president, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.
Obama last month rejected TranCanada Corp’s proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline through environmentally-sensitive areas of Nebraska from the U.S.-Canadian border. On Monday, the White House said it welcomed the company's proposal to build a southern leg of the pipeline and refile an application for the northern part of the route.
But Boehner said the country could not afford to wait.
"The current turmoil in the Middle East and its effect on gas prices reminds us how dangerous it is to rely so much on that region for our energy supply," he said. "We can't wait for this project to get started."
(Reporting By Alister Bull)