The US Senate version of the Keystone XL pipeline bill cleared the US House of Representatives yesterday, setting up a face-off with President Obama as he has signaled that he will most likely veto the bill. The House passed the bipartisan bill on a 270-152 vote, endorsing changes made by the Senate which stipulate that oil sands should no longer be exempt from a tax used to cleanup oil spills and that climate change was real and not a hoax. The bill authorizes TransCanada to construct and operate the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta, Canada to the US Gulf Coast.
The bill sponsor, Republican Senator John Hoeven, said, “I want to thank the House for passing the Senate version of this bill so that we can send it directly to the president rather than to conference committee. The Keystone XL pipeline project is about energy, jobs and economic growth. It’s about national security through energy security.”
However, the Republican-led congress doesn’t have enough votes to overturn a presidential veto, with the Senate falling short of the two-thirds of votes needed. A White House spokesman says Obama is set to veto the bill as it would bypass the ongoing State Department review process.
Houston Democratic congressman Gene Green, who voted for the bill, said, “The Presidential Permitting Process has become nothing more than a political game. Opponents of domestic infrastructure projects use the process to delay projects endlessly in an attempt to raise money under the guise of environmental protection.
“The State Department has studied this project 4 different times. Each time, The Department reported back that the environmental and climate impacts would be negligible. However, opponents of the project do not like that answer so they continue their attack until the project is deferred.”
Once the bill hits Obama’s desk, he has 10 days to respond. If he does veto the Keystone pipeline bill, it will be his third veto since holding office.