The Republican-controlled House passed its second bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline in a matter of months despite a veto threat from the White House.
The passage of the Keystone XL bill came as the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled against challengers of the project, taking away the main obstacle the Obama administration said was holding up its own ruling on the pipeline.
Despite the Nebraska ruling clearing the pipeline of its last legal hurdle, the White House has still promised to veto any bill approving Keystone XL before the State Department makes its formal ruling on the project.
The Senate is set to vote on its own Keystone XL bill next week. On Thursday, the bill passed out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on a 39 to 9 vote, garnering support from one Democrat — Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
“This pipeline should have been approved six years ago.” Rep. John Shimkus, an Illinois Republican, said on the House floor before the vote. “More crude oil on the world market lowers prices for everybody.”
Canadian pipeline company TransCanada first applied for a permit to build the project in 2008, but the Obama administration has yet to approve it. In 2013, President Obama said he would only approve the pipeline if it did not significantly increase U.S. carbon dioxide emissions — a finding already made by his own State Department.
House Republicans have been battling the president on Keystone for years, first passing legislation to approve the project in 2011. Since then, the House has voted nine times to approve the pipeline, including Friday’s vote.
“This was a significant issue in the last election,” Kentucky Republican Rep. Ed Whitfield on the House floor. “This is about jobs for people in America who need jobs. This is about increasing the energy infrastructure of this country.”
But most Democrats and environmental groups have heavily opposed Keystone XL, saying it would harm the environment and worsen global warming. Opponents have also argued the pipeline would not benefit Americans.
New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney said the pipeline would “help Canadian companies export their oil and it happens to be the filthiest energy form.” Maloney added that more federal infrastructure would benefit Americans more than Keystone XL.
“A transportation overhaul would create jobs Americans can live off of,” Maloney said. “The State Department estimates there will only be 35 permanent jobs.”
Keystone XL will bring oil sands from Alberta, Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, which is home to a large concentration of U.S. refineries. Energy analysts have said it makes little economic sense for oil companies to move oil across the U.S. only to have it shipped overseas when so many refineries are available.
The State Department’s own analysis even found that exporting Keystone oil is “unlikely to be economically justified for any significant durable trade given transport costs and market conditions.”
The Senate is expected to pass its own Keystone XL bill next week which will almost certainly be vetoed by Obama. What’s uncertain is if the Senate has a veto-proof majority that favors approving the pipeline.
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