Tags: US | Congress | Keystone | vote

Senate Democrats Reject Bill to Build Oil Pipeline

Tuesday, 18 November 2014 06:32 PM

The U.S. Senate refused to approve TransCanada Corp.’s $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline after years of a political fight over jobs, climate change and energy security.

The vote was 59-41 with 60 required for passage in the Democratic-led Senate. Republicans have said they will try again next year after their party takes control of the chamber. House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell say passage of a Keystone measure is a top priority.

President Barack Obama has opposed legislation approving the Keystone project, saying it would bypass a review being conducted by the State Department. He didn’t say whether he would sign or veto the bill if it reached his desk.

Democratic Senate leaders refused for years to bring the measure to the floor until sponsor Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat, convinced them that a vote may bolster her chances in a Dec. 6 runoff election. The Republican-led House of Representatives passed the measure last week.

Landrieu, speaking on the Senate floor before the vote, called Keystone “a symbol of common sense.”

“It is a symbol of infrastructure necessary for us to be energy independent,” she said. “I don’t want to hear one senator coming down here to the floor to say we’re going to be energy independent without infrastructure.”

Senator Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat who opposed the bill, S. 2280, said lawmakers “should be talking about not how to turn on the tap to the dirtiest oil on the planet, but how to meet the 2025 goals and how to create jobs by investing in energy conservation and renewable energy.”

Landrieu in a Dec. 6 runoff faces Representative Bill Cassidy, the sponsor of an identical bill approving Keystone that the House passed Nov. 14 on a bipartisan 252-161 vote. Landrieu, a three-term senator, was seeking a chance to showcase the influence she could wield in Washington.

TransCanada, a Calgary-based pipeline company, proposed Keystone in 2008. It would carry Canadian oil through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska toward the Gulf of Mexico.

Obama last week disparaged supporters’ argument that the pipeline would be a major job producer and said the oil transported through the pipeline would end up being exported.

The pipeline allows Canada “to pump their oil, send it through our land down to the gulf where it will be sold everywhere else,” Obama said Nov. 14 during a visit to Myanmar.

Environmental groups say the pipeline would encourage development of carbon-heavy oil sands. Supporters say it would create thousands of jobs and increase North American energy security.

“The reality is we’re going to need more infrastructure in this country,” Jack Gerard, chief executive of the American Petroleum Institute, said on Bloomberg Television today. “We need to get the government out of the way and get the politics out of the energy here.”

Obama has deflected efforts to force a decision on Keystone, saying a State Department review should be allowed to proceed. The department is studying the project because it crosses an international border. The agency has suspended its review until a Nebraska court challenge over the route’s path in that state is settled.

Polls have shown Cassidy running ahead of Landrieu. A Cassidy victory in the Louisiana race would bring to nine the net number of Democratic Senate seats captured by Republicans in the Nov. 4 election.

Political analysts had said in advance of the Senate vote that whatever the outcome, they didn’t think it would do much to boost Landrieu’s re-election prospects.

Nathan Gonzales, deputy editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, said Landrieu is in tough shape. He said in an interview, “I don’t think it fundamentally changes the dynamics of the race.”

© Copyright 2018 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

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The Democrat-controlled Senate has defeated a bill to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline.The Senate's 59-41 vote Tuesday night was a nail-biter to the end.The bill needed 60 votes to reach the White House. The House passed it overwhelmingly last week.President Barack...
US, Congress, Keystone, vote
Tuesday, 18 November 2014 06:32 PM
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