Senate Fails to Overturn Obama’s Keystone Oil Pipeline Veto

The final decision to build the project is in the president’s hands.
Mar 4, 2015·
Emily J. Gertz is an associate editor for environment and wildlife at TakePart.

The seven-year fight over the Keystone XL pipeline is closer to resolution now that the United States Senate has failed to override President Obama’s veto of a bill that would have approved the controversial project.

Supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline needed 67 votes to reverse the veto. To the surprise of few, the overturn attempt failed on Wednesday, with 62 senators voting for it and 37 voting against. Eight Democrats joined the Republican majority in trying to squelch the veto.

If built, the 1,180-mile-long pipeline would carry as much as 800,000 barrels of oil a day from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to ports along the Gulf Coast of the United States. It was first proposed in 2008.


Some opponents of Keystone XL worry that a spill from the pipeline could pollute fresh water aquifers that it would cross on its way to Texas.

Others have argued that with the impacts of global warming becoming more evident and more costly every year, the U.S. should not make it easier to use any energy source that will add even more heat-trapping, climate-destabilizing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Supporters claim the pipeline would create 10,000 to 42,000 jobs. Other estimates have found that only about 50 of those jobs would be permanent.

Obama had promised to veto the legislation because it would have undercut the State Department’s authority to review projects that cross the U.S. border as well as curtail the department’s ability to make recommendations to the president on merit.

But debating the pipeline project in Congress has given many lawmakers the opportunity to criticize the president and his energy policies while providing others with chances to advocate for renewable energy and stronger action to curb climate change.

Wednesday’s vote could be the last act of political theater on Keystone XL for some time. Neither Secretary of State John Kerry nor the president have said when to expect a final decision on the pipeline. Obama told Reuters on Monday that he could make it within “weeks or months” or “by the end of my administration.”