Senate Passes Keystone XL Pipeline Bill, In Very Clear Defiance Of Obama's Veto Threat
Despite President Obama's threat that he would veto any such legislation, the Senate passed the Keystone XL Pipeline bill Thursday, which would allow for construction of the oil pipeline to begin. The bipartisan bill passed 62-36. Proponents say the pipeline, which would move oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, will create jobs while not hurting the environment, while opponents argue the pipeline will be of little benefit to Americans and a big benefit for foreign oil companies, the Associated Press reports.
A quick timeline: The proposed bill began in 2008 and faced delay after delay. In 2012, Obama rejected the project after a measure was included that required him to meet a decision deadline. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continued to push the legislation. In late 2014, the Senate rejected the bill by only one vote. An energy efficiency measure was added to placate environmentalists worried about greenhouse gas emissions, then the 1,179-mile pipeline was approved by both the Nebraska Supreme Court and the Republican-led House earlier this month. The White House issued a statement declaring Obama would veto the Keystone XL bill if it reached his desk, and here we are more than six years later, with the Republican-led Senate placing the bill squarely where Obama didn't want it to land.
The 62 votes the bill received might have been enough to move the legislation forward, but they're not enough to override Obama's veto, should he decide to use it. And he very well might, as he's clearly an environmentalist. Just recently, he set aside 12 million acres of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to protect it from oil drilling, though he left several areas open to offshore drilling.
In November, the Rosebud Sioux tribe said the Keystone XL pipeline, which would run directly through Native land, was an "act of war." Tribe President Cyril Scott said they weren't adequately consulted about the project and pushed for higher involvement in the process. Several other tribes have opposed the pipeline as well, with most on the same party line as environmentalists, stating that though the pipelines are said to be "safe," accidents always happen.
McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner are urging Obama to drop the issue and let the pipeline create what they say will be 42,000 jobs, while environmental groups are asking him to reject it entirely. For now, all eyes are on Obama to see what his next move will be.