We Just Got One Step Closer to Building the Keystone XL Pipeline

The U.S. Senate has passed legislation approving the controversial project, but it lacks the votes to override President Obama’s promised veto.
Jan 29, 2015· 0 MIN READ
Emily J. Gertz is an associate editor for environment and wildlife at TakePart.

After a week filled with inside-the-beltway political theater, the Senate voted Thursday afternoon to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

But with 62 votes in favor and 36 against, the Republicans and their Democratic supporters did not muster the 67 votes needed to override President Obama’s promised veto of the bill. The pipeline would transport oil from the tar sands of Canada to shipping ports on the Gulf Coast.

The bill was the first piece of legislation that the Republican-controlled Senate introduced in the new session of Congress. That prompted Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to ask why the senators were in such a rush on a project with so much potential for environmental harm but unlikely to bring the United States much in the way of jobs, revenue, or even oil for domestic use.

“The answer is power—money and power,” Warren said, citing the millions of dollars the Canadian tar sands industry has poured into lobbying Congress on the pipeline.

The House voted with an overwhelming majority to approve the Keystone pipeline on Jan. 9. So now the House and Senate will need to meet and sort out the differences in their two bills.

Some congressional watchers consider the legislation symbolic, as it’s not clear that either the House or the Senate can override the State Department’s authority to approve projects that cross an international boundary.