U.S. House of Representatives passes Keystone XL bill

The Senate may follow next week–but an Obama veto is still a possibility

WASHINGTON – The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has passed legislation to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to Texas, and the Senate may follow next week.

The House voted 252-161 on a bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.

The pipeline has been stalled by environmental reviews, objections to its route and politics for six years.

But the latest bid by House Republicans has the best chance of reaching President Barack Obama’s desk.

Senate supporters said they were confident they’d have the 60 votes needed for passage next Tuesday.

The White House has threatened to veto similar attempts to move the pipeline forward.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said it was time for the president to listen to the American people, especially after the Republican gains in the midterm elections, and sign the bill.

Obama, questioned about the issue while on the other side of the globe, said the administration’s long-stalled review of the project cannot be completed before knowing the outcome of a legal challenge to the pipeline’s route through Nebraska.

“I don’t think we should short-circuit that process,” he said at a news conference in Myanmar.

The 1,900-kilometre project is proposed to go from Alberta through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines to carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Advocates say it will create thousands of jobs and aid energy security, but environmentalists warn of possible spills and say the pipeline will expedite development of some of the dirtiest oil available.

The State Department said in a Jan. 31 report the project would not significantly boost carbon emissions because the oil was likely to find its way to market by other means.

It added that transporting it by rail or truck would cause greater environmental problems than if the Keystone XL pipeline were built.

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