Keystone filibuster fails, pipeline poised for approval
The Keystone XL pipeline is closer than it’s ever been to approval
after the Senate overcame a Democrat-led filibuster Thursday and was
headed for a final passage vote later in the day — setting up an
eventual showdown with President Obama, who has promised a veto.
Democrats bucked Mr. Obama’s threat and voted with 53 Republicans to
approve the pipeline, which has taken on a political significance far
beyond the 830,000 barrels per day of tar sands oil that it is projected
to carry if it ever gets built.
It marks the first major legislation to clear the Senate since the
GOP took control earlier this month, and serves as a key test of how
willing Democrats will be to challenge their lame-duck party leader, Mr.
“This took a bipartisan effort to get done. That’s what the people want,” said Sen. John Hoeven, the North Dakota Republican who sponsored the legislation.
bill will still have to be married with a House version, which cleared
that chamber earlier this year on a similar bipartisan vote — though in
neither case was there enough support to overcome an expected veto.
project is popular with voters and even has won support from some labor
unions, who say it will produce jobs. But environmental groups have
declared the project a key test of the U.S. commitment to combatting
climate change, and have pressured Mr. Obama to fight the pipeline.
1,1790-mile pipeline would carry oil from Alberta, Canada, to Steele
City in Nebraska, where other pipelines would farm it out for
Mr. Obama says he would veto the bill because he
doesn’t want to change current law, which gives his administration the
power to make a decision. He said the State Department, which has been
considering the project for five years, should not be rushed.
president had also said he wanted to wait until a Nebraska court ruled
on a local challenge to the path of the pipeline, but that state’s
Supreme Court threw the case out several weeks ago arguing the
challengers didn’t have standing, so that objection fell.
of the pipeline say that while it will create thousands of short-term
jobs building the pipeline, it will only produce a few dozen long-term
jobs once it’s up and running. And they say the type of oil that would
flow through it is considered among the dirtiest for carbon emissions.
also said the oil will go to the Gulf of Mexico to be refined, where
it’s likely to be shipped to other countries and won’t affect the price
of gas at pumps in the U.S.
Supporters counter that the oil will
be drilled in Canada no matter what, and if the U.S. doesn’t build the
pipeline it will be shipped to China or elsewhere, meaning the carbon
emissions will happen no matter what. They argue having more oil in
North American is good for price stability and helps free the U.S. from
dependence on Middle East fuels.
The nine Democrats who sides with
Republican on the pipeline vote were: Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado,
Tom Carper of Delaware, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Heidi Heitkamp of
North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of
Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana and Mark Warner of Virginia. Mr. Hoeven
and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican who serves as chairwoman
of the Senate Energy Committee, said if Mr. Obama does eventually veto
the bill they’ll try to find ways to attach it to other energy
legislation the president wants, hoping to get him to sign it through a