The debate over the long-proposed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline seemed to conclude in early March, when the U.S. Senate failed to muster the two-thirds majority vote needed to override President Barack Obama's veto.
The pipeline could've moved up to 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Hardisty, Alberta, through Montana and South Dakota to Steele City, Nebraska, but has instead become a hotly contested political football. Legislation for the 1,179-mile structure had been defeated in November 2014, but a new Republican Congress approved it in January, only to have it vetoed by Obama.
The call to override the veto went 62-37, but that was five votes short of the required 67 "Yay" votes that would've restarted the plan for a Canadian company to build the pipeline.
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In Oklahoma, the votes went along party lines. Republicans Jim Inhofe and James Lankford supported the pipeline and the veto override, arguing that it would create many jobs and boost the economy.
"I proudly voted in favor of overriding the president's veto of approving the Keystone XL pipeline, a bill long overdue that would create over an estimated 42,000 well-paying American jobs," Inhofe, the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, said in a March statement
. "There are too many Americans in search of work and the need for energy security is too great to let the Keystone XL pipeline fade away. The fight for the Keystone XL pipeline is not over. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure a cross-border permit is granted, and this project sees the light of day."
Lankford is new to the Senate. The former member of the House of Representatives succeeded fellow Republican Tom Coburn, who announced his retirement in January. Coburn and Inhofe voted for the pipeline in November 2014, though the measure was defeated until it was revived in January by the new Republican-controlled Congress.
"This Keystone issue is bigger than oil; it is a demonstration of an executive that refuses to answer a simple pipeline permit request," Lankford told Oklahoma Energy Today
, after the veto. "The President refuses to say 'yes' or 'no' to the infrastructure project itself. For six years, his answer has been 'wait.'
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"Today's veto is further proof that President Obama is more focused on politics and satisfying special interests, than growing the economy and securing energy independence for America. After Republicans took control of the Senate, President Obama said he wanted to work with Republicans; the Keystone XL Pipeline was a perfect opportunity for a bipartisan accomplishment and the President walked away."
The Keystone XL has evolved into a symbol of the strife between environmentalists and oil companies, which have ignited a political debate. It was proposed in 2005 and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton nearly approved it in 2011. By then, advocates for climate change grabbed onto the issue as a way to call attention to global warming.
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