Debate continues on Keystone XL pipeline

The Senate advanced legislation Jan. 12 to approve the Keystone XL pipeline despite President Obama declaring he would veto it. The Senate voted 63-32 to clear a major hurdle and begin debate on the bill.

TransCanada-Keystone-Pipeline-System-Map-2014-02-25

Posted Friday, January 16, 2015

By Lori Kesinger

The Senate advanced legislation Jan. 12 to approve the Keystone XL pipeline despite President Obama declaring he would veto it. The Senate voted 63-32 to clear a major hurdle and begin debate on the bill.

The Senate lacked the two-thirds majority vote needed to overcome a veto should Obama follow through with his threat. The House passed the bill last week with a vote of 266-153, also short the 290 votes needed to clear a veto.

The proposed pipeline is a system to transport crude oil from the oil sands of Alberta, Canada and the northern U.S. to refineries near the Gulf of Mexico. An on-ramp called the Bakken MarketLink will intersect with the pipeline at Baker providing a terminal to export oil being produced from the Bakken formation. Most of the Bakken oil is currently being transported by tanker or railcar.

Obama is under pressure from both sides of the pipeline debate after a Nebraska court dismissed the challenge made by landowners. The Nebraska Supreme Court upheld Keystone’s proposed path and returned the fate of the project to the White House.

Obama stated the Nebraska case was the main reason why he plans to veto legislation approving the pipeline. The State Department hasn’t issued a final recommendation on the pipeline either. The department suspended all review of the project when the Nebraska lawsuit was filed last year.

“Our posture and our position hasn’t changed. This is a process that is still underway at the State Department,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters Jan. 9. “I don’t have any updates for you on that process. As you know, it’s undergoing rigorous review and we’re going to wait for that review to be concluded before the President makes any decisions.”

“The President believes that the process should unfold at the State Department and that any legislative end-run around that process is misguided, and he will veto that bill,” Schultz further stated. The administration has given no timeline on when the State Department might finish its final review.

Proponents say the pipeline will create jobs, increase tax revenue, and gain energy independence for the United States. Sen. Jon Tester, Sen. Steve Daines, and Rep. Ryan Zinke all support the pipeline project for Montana.

“This legislation is exactly the kind of commonsense solution that Montanans want to see,” Daines said. “It has broad bipartisan support, it’s environmentally sound, it creates jobs, and it helps move us toward energy independence. I look forward to passing it out of the Senate and giving President Obama the opportunity to finally approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline after six years of political games and gridlock.”

      



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