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Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D.

Noem expects pipeline approval before Obama's term ends

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U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem believes President Barack Obama will decide whether to approve the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline before the end of his term in 2016.

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Noem supports the pipeline, which would carry crude oil from Canada through parts of Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska and on to refineries elsewhere in the U.S. It has been talked about for years, but definitive action has been slow in coming.

"I do believe it will be approved," Noem said in an interview Friday with The Daily Republic's editorial board at the newspaper's office in Mitchell. "I don't know necessarily if it will be approved before this next election."

At this point, Noem said, politics is likely more of a culprit for the delay than any lingering economic or environmental concerns.

"It's certainly gone through all the processes," Noem said. "It's been under years of study and the route has been moved to safer environmental areas."

With many interests at stake on both sides of the issue, Noem said, it's hardly a surprise the process has taken such a long time.

"You've got people on both sides of the issue and it's been pretty contentious over the last several years," she said.

Whatever the outcome, the oil from Canada will find its way to American refineries whether by pipeline, Noem said, or in trucks and trains.

"Those are even riskier and harder on our environment," she said of the latter options.

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