U.S. House approves Keystone XL pipeline construction #kxl
Keystone XL just gets Canadian oil to world markets, it doesn’t help the U.S. consumer, the President said in Burma earlier on Friday.
“Understand what this project is: It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else. It doesn’t have an impact on U.S. gas prices,” the President said, evidently frustrated with questions about the Canadian-backed project while he was standing alongside Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
A showdown looms over Keystone XL with more drama and delays for the project to create an export outlet for Canada’s carbon-heavy oil sands crude. The pipeline has become the prime target for a broad coalition of environmental groups seeking to hold Mr. Obama to his sweeping but vague pledges to battle climate change by cutting greenhouse-gas emissions.
Republicans, emboldened by big gains in last week’s midterm elections, have chosen to make Keystone XL into the first battle of wills with a lame-duck president.
And Mr. Obama, so far, isn’t backing down.
Mr. Obama “has taken a dim view of these kinds of legislative proposals in the past,” Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, said on Thursday in Naypyidaw, capital of Myanmar, signalling the President would veto any legislation attempting to strip him of authority to make the decision about the transborder project. “The President’s senior advisers at the White House have recommended that he veto legislation like that,” Mr. Earnest added, referring to past congressional manoeuvring to wrest the decision out of the President’s hands. “That has continued to be our position.”
The House of Representatives, where Republicans have an overwhelming majority, voted in favour of a Keystone XL bill Friday. The Senate will take up a nearly identical bill next week, although it remains unclear if backers have the 60 votes to avoid a filibuster.
Big oil and big business hailed the reinvigorated congressional effort to force Mr. Obama to approve the project.
“Enhancing our nation’s energy security through the construction of a critical infrastructure project should be a no-brainer,” said American Petroleum Institute president Jack Gerard, echoing the line used by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has lobbied tirelessly on behalf of the TransCanada Corp. project that would give Alberta’s vast but landlocked oil sands a route to world markets.
TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard said, “There continues to be strong bipartisan support for Keystone XL and we are encouraged by any effort to move this process forward.”
The new flurry of Keystone XL activity on Capitol Hill comes as Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu, the key backer of a Senate bill on the pipeline, makes a last-ditch effort to save her seat in a Louisiana runoff scheduled for Dec. 6. Her Republican opponent, Bill Cassidy, currently sitting in the House of Representatives, has introduced the legislation in the lower house.
Both will claim credit for pushing the project forward if the legislation winds up on the President’s desk, forcing the showdown.
“It is time for America to become energy independent and that is impossible without the Keystone pipeline and other pipelines like it,” Ms. Landrieu said.
“I’m going to let that process play out,” Mr. Obama said, referring to the current State Department review, unbowed by accusations that he is thwarting a majority of Americans who tell pollsters they back Keystone XL.
With a cross-border pipeline, authority to issue a permit is vested with the President. Mr. Obama has repeatedly delayed a decision, much to the frustration of Mr. Harper, a Keystone booster.
The project is also bogged down in a legal challenge in Nebraska, where the state’s Supreme Court decision on the legality of TransCanada’s right-of-way is not expected until early next year.
Mr. Obama has said he won’t approve Keystone XL unless it can be proven to be in the national interest of the United States.