Senate GOP May Push Keystone Pipeline as Part of Energy Bill

Tuesday, 23 Jul 2013 06:56 PM

By Dan Weil

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Senate Republicans may attach an amendment seeking approval of the Keystone oil pipeline to the energy efficiency bill being considered by the chamber.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., told reporters Tuesday that the GOP would no longer accept just a hearing on the pipeline instead of an amendment to the energy bill, The Hill reports.

Republicans will press for the amendment unless President Barack Obama establishes a date for his final decision on the project or the Senate leadership permits a stand-alone vote on Keystone, Hoeven said.

"For us to hold off, we'd need something," he said. "And it's not just my sense, it's really the sense of my colleagues. Every single member of my conference has voted for this and will again."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said another Keystone vote will probably occur, perhaps as part of the energy efficiency bill, which is tentatively scheduled for the floor next week, according to The Hill.

While a majority of lawmakers in both houses of Congress support the pipeline, Obama has held off making a decision amid opposition from environmentalists.

"There is only one rational decision here," Russ Girling, CEO of pipeline owner TransCanada, told Bloomberg.  "Denial of this pipeline is not in any way rational. At best, it's symbolic."

Preventing extension of the pipeline won't affect greenhouse-gas emissions, he said. "It will actually just impose greater risks on public health and safety."

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