WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., signed on Monday as a co-sponsor to legislation that would approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., signed on Monday as a co-sponsor to legislation that would approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The bill would essentially override a recent State Department decision to reject a permit for the pipeline that would transport 700,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.

“This project has a tremendous impact on Arkansas businesses hired to construct and produce the steel used for the pipeline. These businesses have invested millions of dollars to help build a tool to provide a reliable source of energy,” Boozman said.

The entire Arkansas delegation has voiced their support for the pipeline. Although it would not pass through Arkansas, some local businesses would benefit. Welspun Tubular in Little Rock has 500 miles of pipe at its facility waiting to ship for the pipeline.

The company laid off about 60 employees after the Obama administration announced plans to delay a decision until after the 2012 elections.

Congress approved legislation to force the administration to make a swift decision, which led Obama to reject the permit earlier this month. The decision, Obama said, was not based on merit but because Republicans in Congress had insisted on a “rushed and arbitrary deadline” that did not allow enough time for a full assessment of the health, safety and environmental impact of the pipeline.

The State Department left open the possibility that the pipeline still could be built, noting that its recommendation did not preclude any subsequent permit application or applications for similar projects.

Pipeline proponents in Congress are now looking for a legislative path to approve the pipeline without further review by the State Department. U.S. Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and David Vitter, R-La., introduced legislation today to allow TransCanada to construct and operate the Keystone XL pipeline while Nebraska works to determine an alternative route around sensitive wetlands.

In all, 43 senators have co-sponsored the bill.

“This is a practical way to provide Americans with well-paying job opportunities while reducing our dependence on oil from violent Middle Eastern regimes,” Boozman said.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Sunday that the House might include similar Keystone Pipeline approval language in a highway bill expected to come to the floor next month.

“If (Keystone) is not enacted before we take up the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, it will be part of it,” Boehner said on ABC’s “This Week” news program.