WASHINGTON – The House may have approved the Keystone XL bill,but that’s not the end of this pipeline.
The bill passed easily Friday in a 266-153 vote.
First introduced in 2008,this marks the tenth time the House has passed the bill.
Earlier Friday,the Nebraska Supreme Court threw out a case questioning the constitutionality of a law that gave approval of the pipeline route to the governor instead of the state’s public service commission. Some landowners object to the pipeline,which they say passes too near to the Ogallala Aquifer.
TransCanada,the company that would operate the pipeline,moved the route east to get it farther away from sensitive areas.
TransCanada proposed the pipeline to carry oil to U.S. refineries in Texas from Canada. The new pipeline route would stretch 875 miles from Morgan,Mont.,to Steele City. Neb.,where it will join an existing pipeline.
President Barack Obama on Thursday threatened to veto the House’s bill if it passes the Senate,which plans to take it up Monday. As Obama traveled to Tennessee on Friday,Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz told reporters the threat of a veto hadn’t changed.
House Democrats said bringing the bill directly to the floor without allowing amendments and with shortened time for debate was “special treatment” for the Canadian company and called passing it a “waste of time.”
Republicans said the construction of the pipeline will add 40,000 jobs while Democrats said the pipeline will have just 35 permanent jobs after construction is finished.
Rep. Justin Amash,R-Mich.,was the only House member who voted on the bill and chose to stay neutral.
“I support Keystone XL,I oppose cronyism,” Amash said. “A bill should not specially exempt one company from laws.”
With the bill heading to the Senate next week,Majority Leader Mitch McConnell,R-Ky.,released a statement expressing confidence the chamber will quickly approve it with bipartisan support.
“Today’s ruling provides the perfect opportunity for the President to change his unproductive posture on this jobs project and reverse his veto threat,” McConnell said.
Assistant Director at the Center for Study of Science at the Washington-headquartered Cato Institute Chip Knappenberger agreed it’s possible the Senate could approve the bill as early as Monday,but added that it’s “more about politics as anything else.”
The pipeline is still undergoing review by the U.S. State Department,and Schultz said the president will wait for the conclusion of that review before making any decisions.
The Senate is scheduled to vote Monday 5:30 p.m. on a motion to bring the bill directly to the floor and avoid committee hearings. Sen. Richard Durban,D-Ill.,said Thursday he hoped the Senate would allow the bill to go through the committee process.
Reach reporter Tori Knueven at [email protected] or 202-408-1492. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.