Long-term strategic interests of the U.S. and Canadian governments are at risk because of the politics surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline, an analyst said.
Canadian pipeline company TransCanada aims to build the Keystone XL pipeline to carry oil from Canada to refineries along the southern U.S. coast. It needs White House approval because the pipeline would cross the U.S.-Canadian border.
Lawmakers backing the project say it's needed for U.S. energy security and will provide jobs in a stagnant economy. Opponents say about the threat posed by heavy Canadian oil and say pipelines like Keystone XL should be abandoned in favor of a stronger renewable energy policy.
David Burwell, director of the Energy and Climate Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, writes for CNN that there's little to be gained by making turning the project into a political debate.
"Congress should resist the temptation to use Keystone XL as an opportunity for political brinkmanship," he writes. "Both Democrats and Republicans need to make sure that the real issues aren't lost in the partisan noise of Washington and that we do our best to avoid all the collateral damage."
Burwell said a transportation bill that contains a rider on Keystone XL is at risk of failure because of the pipeline. U.S. and Canadian relations, meanwhile, could be damaged as a result of the political debate.
TransCanada is working on an alternative route through Nebraska to avoid the environmentally sensitive Sand Hills.