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Senate Passes Keystone XL Bill, White House Says Will Veto

Yesterday the Senate passed a bill forcing the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline that would transport Canadian tar sand oil through the US to the gulf coast. The vote was 62-36 and nine Democrats – Bennet, Carper, Casey, Donnelly, Heitkamp, Manchin, McCaskill, Tester, and Warner – joined 53 Republicans in supporting the forced approval of the pipeline. The bill goes back to the House to be passed in full or go to conference with a House version of an already passed bill that forced approval for Keystone. Given that House leadership is also in favor of forced approval of the Keystone XL one way or the other a bill is all but certain to be passed and sent to the president.

The White House issued an explicit statement after the Senate vote saying that President Obama will veto the bill. It would be the third veto of his presidency though Obama noted in his State of the Union speech that he had no problem vetoing Republican proposals he disagreed with. In that sense the Keystone XL is a forerunner to two conflicts the new Congress is likely to have with the White House – how much a Republican controlled Congress can get Obama to sign and how much of President Obama’s climate change agenda can get done.

It is unlikely Republicans can get a two-thirds majority to override a veto from President Obama though they might start jamming Obama on the issue by attaching the forced approval of the pipeline to other bills he will have a more difficult time vetoing.

The solution is for Obama to simply say no to the pipeline. It’s his decision due to the pipeline crossing an international border (US-Canadian) and he has been continually delaying the decision for agency reviews and court decisions most of which are already resolved and all of which should, in theory, be completed by the beginning of next week.

Mr. Obama has repeatedly said that he is waiting for all reviews and processes to be completed before he makes a final decision. In 2013, he said that his verdict on the pipeline would be based on whether its construction would worsen climate change. But an 11-volume State Department environmental review of the proposed pipeline, released last year, concluded that its construction would not significantly increase the rate of planet-warming pollution into the atmosphere.

After that review was released, Mr. Obama said that he would not issue a decision until a court case in Nebraska over the pipeline’s route was settled. Earlier this month, the Nebraska court cleared the way for the pipeline’s construction through that state. Mr. Obama has also said that he wants to wait until a series of reviews by additional cabinet agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Defense, Interior, Homeland Security and Commerce, are complete. The deadline for those reviews, aimed at determining whether the project is in the national interest, is on Monday.

What’s the point of vetoing the bill and not finally saying no to Keystone XL? It’s time for a decision.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Sentate Passes Keystone XL Bill, White House Says Will Veto

Yesterday the Senate passed a bill forcing the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline that would transport Canadian tar sand oil through the US to the gulf coast. The vote was 62-36 and nine Democrats – Bennet, Carper, Casey, Donnelly, Heitkamp, Manchin, McCaskill, Tester, and Warner – joined 53 Republicans in supporting the forced approval of the pipeline. The bill goes back to the House to be passed in full or go to conference with a House version of an already passed bill that forced approval for Keystone. Given that House leadership is also in favor of forced approval of the Keystone XL one way or the other a bill is all but certain to be passed and sent to the president.

The White House issued an explicit statement after the Senate vote saying that President Obama will veto the bill. It would be the third veto of his presidency though Obama noted in his State of the Union speech that he had no problem vetoing Republican proposals he disagreed with. In that sense the Keystone XL is a forerunner to two conflicts the new Congress is likely to have with the White House – how much a Republican controlled Congress can get Obama to sign and how much of President Obama’s climate change agenda can get done.

It is unlikely Republicans can get a two-thirds majority to override a veto from President Obama though they might start jamming Obama on the issue by attaching the forced approval of the pipeline to other bills he will have a more difficult time vetoing.

The solution is for Obama to simply say no to the pipeline. It’s his decision due to the pipeline crossing an international border (US-Canadian) and he has been continually delaying the decision for agency reviews and court decisions most of which are already resolved and all of which should, in theory, be completed by the beginning of next week.

Mr. Obama has repeatedly said that he is waiting for all reviews and processes to be completed before he makes a final decision. In 2013, he said that his verdict on the pipeline would be based on whether its construction would worsen climate change. But an 11-volume State Department environmental review of the proposed pipeline, released last year, concluded that its construction would not significantly increase the rate of planet-warming pollution into the atmosphere.

After that review was released, Mr. Obama said that he would not issue a decision until a court case in Nebraska over the pipeline’s route was settled. Earlier this month, the Nebraska court cleared the way for the pipeline’s construction through that state. Mr. Obama has also said that he wants to wait until a series of reviews by additional cabinet agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Defense, Interior, Homeland Security and Commerce, are complete. The deadline for those reviews, aimed at determining whether the project is in the national interest, is on Monday.

What’s the point of vetoing the bill and not finally saying no to Keystone XL? It’s time for a decision.

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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.