The Keystone XL pipeline project has overcome a key procedural hurdle and advanced in the US Senate. The measure received 63 to 32 votes to overcome a filibuster, and will now go to the Senate floor for debate and an open amendment process.
U.S. Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) are sponoring the bipartisan bill. Hoeven commented yesterday, “Our Keystone XL pipeline bill has gained the support of the American people and bipartisan support in Congress based on its merits. This evening’s vote means it will now advance to the floor for open debate and every member will have an opportunity to offer amendments they believe will strengthen the bill.”
The Hoeven-Manchin legislation approves the project under Congress’s authority enumerated in the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8. Upon passage, a presidential permit would no longer be needed to approve the project. Both Hoeven and Manchin serve on the Senate Energy Committee, which is chaired by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
The bill authorizes TransCanada to construct and operate the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the US Gulf Coast, transporting an additional 830,000 b/d to US refineries, which includes 100,000 b/d from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana.
President Obama has threatened to veto the bill if it makes it to his desk. Hoeven has admited in multiple press reports that he is 4 votes short of the 67 needed to override a presidential veto.
The Hoeven-Manchin bill, S.1, is the first piece of legislation brought to the floor in the 114th Congress. The legislation formally recognizes the most recent State Department Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) released in January 2014, which concludes that construction of the Keystone XL pipeline would have no significant impact on the environment.
The $8 billion project has been under review for more than six years, with multiple environmental reviews completed to date.