Once Again, House Approves Keystone XL Pipeline; Senate to Vote Next Week

In this Feb. 1, 2012, file photo, miles of pipe ready to become part of the Keystone Pipeline are stacked in a field near Ripley, Okla. (Photo: Sue Ogrocki, AP)
In this Feb. 1, 2012, file photo, miles of pipe ready to become part of the Keystone Pipeline are stacked in a field near Ripley, Okla. (Photo: Sue Ogrocki, AP)

Republicans in the U.S. House approved legislation, 252-161, for the ninth time to authorize construction of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline in a legislative push renewed by two lawmakers locked in a Louisiana Senate runoff next month.

“This will create other economic activity. This will ripple out through the economy,” said GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy, the sponsor of the House bill. Cassidy is favored to oust incumbent Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in a Dec. 6 runoff election necessary because neither surpassed Louisiana’s 50% threshold on Election Day.

Landrieu is a co-sponsor of the Senate bill and sparked the renewed push for the pipeline earlier this week with the help of other centrist Democrats from conservative states who also back the pipeline despite opposition from most Democrats.

Cassidy said “of course” the House vote helps his campaign efforts. There’s an ad running in Louisiana now “talking about how passionate I am about creating energy jobs. And so the timing of this could not be better.”

The Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on the bill. If it overcomes a 60-vote threshold it will head to President Obama’s desk where he will either sign it into law or veto it. The president has delayed a decision on the pipeline, deferring to an ongoing review at the State Department, but White House spokesman Josh Earnest suggested Thursday that the president could veto it.

The president is under pressure from environmental groups who oppose the pipeline. Republicans counter that the pipeline’s construction would produce jobs. The six-year delay has not slowed oil production by TransCanada, but it has made transporting it to refineries on the Gulf Coast more complicated.

“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 US gas prices,” said Obama, who is travelling in Asia. “If my Republican friends really want to focus on what’s good for the American people in terms of job creation and lower energy costs, we should be engaging in a conversation about what are we doing to produce even more homegrown energy. I’m happy to have that conversation.”

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SOURCE: USA Today – Susan Davis and Deborah Barfield Berry