House Passes Bill Aimed at Advancing Keystone XL Pipeline

The House passed a bill that would take the permitting authority for the Keystone XL Pipeline away from President Obama.

Passed by a vote of 241 to 175, the bill is the latest attempt by Keystone supporters to get construction started on the pipeline that would move crude oil from Alberta, Canada, to refineries along the Gulf Coast.

Obama approved a permit to build the southern portion of the line that would stretch from Oklahoma to the Gulf, but the permit for the northern segment has been stalled in review since 2008.

Environmental groups in states along the U.S. route have said the pipeline could do damage, especially in the case of a spill. Internationally, environmentalists have said the drilling methods used in extracting oil from the Canadian tar sands produces unacceptable levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

The president and the State Department must sign off on the pipeline because it crosses an international border.

“The Keystone pipeline will create tens of thousands of American jobs and pump nearly a million barrels of oil to U.S. refineries each day, helping to lower gas prices, boost economic growth, enhance our energy security and revitalize manufacturing,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement after the vote.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.). Nebraska environmentalists opposed the pipeline, which was originally routed through what they said was an environmentally sensitive area. Nebraska state government officials agreed to support the pipeline once it was rerouted around the area in question.

“It’s taken five years and 15,000 pages of environmental reviews to get to this point,” Terry said in a statement. “Despite all of the delays, the president’s own State Department has said that there are no significant impacts to the environment for this project.”

The bill is not expected to pass the Senate, which has blocked other attempts by the House to force the president to approve the pipeline permit.


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