WASHINGTON — It's just the latest salvo in Washington's war over the oilsands.
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline received an endorsement Wednesday from American veterans, who argue the energy independence they believe Keystone can help provide is key to global peace and security.
"We understand that sound energy policy and national security are inextricably linked — they cannot be separated," retired rear admiral Don Loren from Vets 4 Energy said.
"The recent events in eastern Europe have demonstrated the importance of energy to a domestic economy and to the international community and its security."
Veterans, together with a group of Republican senators and Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer, urged approval of the pipeline to create jobs and ensure American energy security.
Republican Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota also tied the crisis in Ukraine with the pipeline's approval, saying Russia's Crimean land grab crystallized the need for getting energy from allies like Canada.
"Right now the (European Union) gets a third of its energy from Russia," he said.
"So the EU is worried about stepping up with us on sanctions because they're worried that Russia's going to cut off their energy supply. What stronger example do we need to see to understand the importance of energy security?"
Not everyone was sold on the argument.
One audience member took Doer to task over whether the oil carried from Alberta's oilsands to Gulf coast refineries would stay in the U.S. or be shipped to energy-hungry developing nations.
Doer said he has no jurisdiction over what American companies do with the oil, but the bulk would likely stay in the North American market.
"The oil is going to go to the Gulf Coast, 100% of it. It's going to go to U.S. refineries, under U.S. jurisdiction, under U.S. law and under U.S. commerce," he said.
President Barack Obama continues to mull over a decision on Keystone XL, five years after the pipeline was first proposed.