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White House Confirms Keystone XL Proposed Bill Veto

Washington, D.C. – Senate Republicans hope to pass a bill approving the controversial Keystone XL pipeline by Friday this week. In previous months, Obama has been reluctant to indicate how he would respond to such a bill. However the White House now reports that President Obama plans to veto this porposed bill.

The proposed pipeline to be constructed by TransCanada, a Calgary-based oil company wants to build the pipeline to transport 800,000 barrels per day of tar sands oil across the United States to be refined, exported and burned.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest, said, “If this bill passes this Congress, the president wouldn’t sign [it]”. Earnest indicated a veto would be the response because the issue is still being considered by the State Department and because there is a pending case in the Nebraska Supreme Court regarding the pipeline.

The Nebraska Supreme Court is considering a case regarding who has the legal authority to approve a part of the pipeline to run through the state. In 2012, Nebraska was passed a law to allow Republican Gov. Dave Heineman to have that authority. A lower court favored the plaintiffs in the case who argued against that law. The Nebraska Supreme Court may decide to overturn that ruling, uphold it, or possibly require that approval of the Keystone route to come from a state regulatory panel.

In March 2014, Secretary of State John Kerry released a preliminary report that has received much criticism from environmentalists claiming a conflict of interest with a contractor hired to write the report. According to a statement by Friends of the Earth, “the company has been working with TransCanada and Exxon Mobil on another pipeline project and that they have deep ties to many of the oil companies.”

Kerry’s recommendation to the administration whether to be in support of the $8 billion project hinges mainly on ‘national interests’. Environmentalists insist that the threat of increased carbon emmissions and the potential for spills outweighs national interests measured in economic terms. The opposition has kept the pressure on Kerry and the White House to reject any proposal to approve the Keystone XL. On December 11, 2014, demonstrators gathered the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP 20 urging Kerry to recommend against the pipeline’s construction.

In response to the White House announcement, 350.org Founder Bill McKibben said, “This is a tribute to the millions of people who have made this one of the center pieces of a fast growing climate movement. So far their desire to protect the land and climate have been a match for the fountains of dirty money that constitute the oil industry’s only real argument.”

See Related Story: 350.org Vows Massive Youth Civil Disobedience over Keystone XL

A bill promoted by then Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu to move ahead on the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline was defeated in November in the Senate when the Democrats held the majority.

After the 2015 mid-term elections, Republicans gained a majority in the Senate and as their first line of action reintroduced an identical bill in support of the pipeline construction.

Pending the court case and the State Department report, Earnest said, “There is already a well-established process in place to consider whether or not infrastructure projects like this are in the best interest of the country.”

Keystone XL Defeated by Senate Democrats; 59 to 41

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Democrats in the Senate defeated bills today that would have approved the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The Canadian company TransCanada wanted to begin building the northern section of the oil pipeline that would stretch 2,000 miles from Alberta, Canada to the Guld Coast of Texas. The proposed pipeline would carry 800,000 barrels per day of tar sands oil across the United States to be refined, exported and burned. Environmental activists have opposed the pipeline construction, citing the risk of oil spills and an increase in carbon emissions from the project.

According to the SierraClub, “extracting tar sands is one of the most destructive projects on earth.” Friends of the Earth said that the Keystone XL pipeline “could devastate ecosystems, pollute water sources and jeopardize public health.”

If it were to pass, President Obama was expected to veto the bills. The final vote was a narrow 59 in favor to 41 in opposed, failing to reach the 60 votes needed to pass. Forty Democrats and one Independent voted against the bill, while 14 Democrats joined all the Republicans in support of Keystone XL.