Legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline was narrowly defeated by Senate Democrats Tuesday night after pro-pipeline lawmakers failed to cobble together the 60 votes needed to pass the bill.
Despite gathering 59 Republicans and Democrats to support Landrieu’s bill, it was not enough to prevent anti-pipeline Democrats from preventing the bill from being sent to President Obama’s desk.
Even if the billed had passed, the White House strongly suggested that President Obama was unlikely to sign Landrieu’s bill because he wants to wait for the State Department to finish its review of Keystone before he acts.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Landrieu’s bill “certainly is a piece of legislation that the president doesn’t support because the president believes that this is something that should be determined through the State Department and the regular process that is in place.”
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The Keystone XL bill was introduced by Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu last week, not too far ahead of her runoff tough election against Republican opponent Bill Cassidy in December.
Cassidy has painted Landrieu as being an ineffective lawmaker despite her chairing the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and being a member of the majority party in the Senate. Cassidy also knocked Landrieu for introducing Keystone legislation now after the project went through years of delays.
— Bill Cassidy (@BillCassidy) November 18, 2014
The House passed Keystone legislation introduced by Cassidy last week in an effort to take the wind out of Landrieu’s sails and keep her from taking full credit for Keystone’s passage.
Landrieu expressed disappointment the Senate did not approve her bill.
The Keystone XL pipeline has the source of a major political battle for six years now. In 2008, TransCanada applied for a presidential permit to approve a pipeline to bring oil sands from Alberta, Canada to Gulf Coast refineries. It would expand upon the already existing Keystone pipeline which bring oil sands from Alberta to Illinois.
Environmentalists and liberal groups have opposed the pipeline, arguing it will harm water quality and contribute to global warming while having minimal economic impacts. Some liberals have even argued the pipeline would raise domestic gasoline prices.
“What does XL stand for? To me it stands for extra lethal,” Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, argued on the Senate floor Tuesday. “This is a serious environmental hazard.”
Boxer argued that Keystone XL’s approval would mean more “cancer-causing pollutants” would be released into the atmosphere, exacerbating pollution problems and global warming.
“Building the pipeline will make things worse for the people we represent,” Boxer said. “Misery follows the tar sands.”
The State Department’s review of Keystone, however, found that Keystone XL’s approval would have little impact on the environment or global warming since oil sands will be brought to market if if the pipeline is vetoed.
Republicans and Keystone supporters argue the pipeline will create thousands of jobs and increase North American energy independence. Republicans have sold it as a jobs bill that that will boost employment without costing taxpayers anything.
Despite the narrow defeat, Republicans have vowed to continue to press Obama on Keystone. The GOP will take control of the Senate next year and likely have a filibuster-proof majority to pass another Keystone approval bill.
“We will come back again next year and keep coming back until we get a solution,” said Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican.
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