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The Republican Party sent an email blast Monday blaming California Democrats for delaying a controversial pipeline that even supporters acknowledge would bring little economic benefit to the state.

The National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee sent the letter in response to President Barack Obama's decision Friday to extend the review period for the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring oil from western Canada to the Gulf Coast.

Obama is under pressure from environmentalists to nix the project, but many of his fellow Democrats are feeling the heat from Republicans eager to turn it into an election issue.

The GOP accused Democrats in competitive House races, including Rep. Ami Bera of Elk Grove, John Garamendi of Walnut Grove and Raul Ruiz of Palm Desert, of standing with their "far-left liberal donors" rather than supporting the pipeline.

One of those donors is San Francisco billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, who opposes the pipeline and has funded efforts to defeat any candidate who supports it - even Democrats.

Steyer hosted a fundraiser with Obama for Democrats earlier this month and has pledged $100 million to back candidates who favor renewable energy over fossil fuels.

NRCC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said Steyer "is one of many extreme donors" filling the campaign coffers of Democrats.

But it's not clear that the issue will resonate in California. Keystone XL wouldn't come within half a continent of California, nor would it supply the state's petroleum needs.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association and one of the pipeline's strongest supporters, wrote in 2012 that it wouldn't deliver direct economic benefits to California and other western states.

California will get a significant amount of oil by rail in the coming years, however. The state energy commission projects that trains could supply as much as a quarter of the state's oil needs within two years.

Tyrone Gayle, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, called the NRCC letter "another desperate attempt by national Republicans to distract Californians."

PHOTO: Rep. John Garamendi discusses legislation he and Republican Rep. Doug LaMalfa, left, are proposing to study the cost of building a reservoir in the Sites Valley. AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli.



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