The White House said on Tuesday that President Obama would not sign legislation approving the Keystone XL pipeline which is expected to be passed by the Republican-controlled Congress.
The House is expected to vote on a Keystone XL bill this Friday and the Senate introduced a bill to approve the project Tuesday. The legislation is similar to a bill put forward last congress which the White House threatened to veto. This time around the White House has not changed its mind.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said he could “guarantee” Obama would not sign a Keystone XL approval bill. Echoing Obama’s opposition to the last Keystone bill, Earnest said the president “won’t pass this legislation either.”
Republicans, however, have promised to get the pipeline passed even if Obama doesn’t sign the pending Keystone bill. Lawmakers say they have a plan to pass Keystone later this year in the event of a veto.
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“For us to continue to produce more energy and compete in the global market we need more pipelines to move crude at the lowest cost and in the safest, most environmentally friendly way,” North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven told reporters Tuesday. “That means that pipelines like the Keystone XL are in the vital national interest of our country.”
Hoeven and West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin introduced the Senate’s Keystone XL approval bill. These lawmakers are confident they have the votes to pass the bill out of the Senate.
Last year, a Keystone bill was introduced by Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in a last ditch attempt to boost her approval ahead of a tough runoff election. The Senate bill failed to gain 60 votes needed to pass while a similar bill was passed in the House.
But now that Republicans control the Senate, there is likely a pro-Keystone majority that could pass more pipeline bills. This is a prospect that has worried anti-Keystone Democrats, who are trying to make it more difficult to approve the project.
Keystone XL has been delayed for more than six years and has become a lightning rod for environmental activists who oppose fossil fuel development. Activists say the project would harm air and water quality and make global warming worse.
But Keystone supporters point to a studies done by the State Department which found the project will have little to no impact on the environment or the climate. Supporters also argue the pipeline will create thousands of jobs and help lower oil and gas prices.
The Obama administration, however, still controls the fate of the pipeline in its hands as long as no congressional legislation is passed.
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