Despite an almost guaranteed veto from the President, the House passed a bill on Feb. 11 that would allow for the creation of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. The senate approved the project on Jan. 29.
The pipeline, which is meant to transport oil from Alberta, Canada to Texas, has been debated for years now. During the 2014 campaign season, the pipeline was a popular issue to discuss, especially in close elections where Democratic senators were serving in traditionally red states.
Despite passing in the House, President Obama is expected to veto the legislation, as he has been a vocal critic of the pipeline in the past, saying he was skeptical on how many permanent jobs it would create and whether or not the additional energy sources would remain in America or join the global market. He has long delayed any decision on whether or not to approve the creation, going back as far as 2009.
The bill passed in a slightly bipartisan effort – 29 Democrats joined all but one Republican in voting in favor of Keystone. Despite this, the White House has concerns that Congress would be taking too much power away from the President on a decision that the commander-in-chief should be making, due to Keystone technically being considered an infrastructure project.
Top lawmakers have spoken out against the veto threat from the President. House Speaker John Boehner (R) accused Obama of letting environmental groups influence his decision on the matter.
“Keystone has been reviewed and approved several times; … instead of listening to people, the president’s standing with a bunch of left-wing extremists and anarchists,” said the Speaker.
While Republicans are promoting the job creation aspect of Keystone, opponents are concerned about the environmental impact of drilling for oil and sending it across the United States. Concerns also loom about oil spills, given that pipelines frequently leak and cause costly oil cleanups. Additionally, the pipeline would create only 35 permanent jobs.
Keystone has become a political tool for many Republicans to use against their Democratic challengers. Just this past November, incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) lost her reelection bid after being closely watched to see whether or not she would vote to support the construction of the pipeline. Landrieu did vote for it, but still lost her Louisiana Senate seat by 11 percentage points.
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