Senate Passes Keystone XL Pipeline Bill

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Chamber Must Reconcile Its Version of Bill With House’s Before Sending to Obama.

The Senate on Thursday passed legislation approving the Keystone XL pipeline, moving the Republican-controlled Congress a step closer to a showdown with President Barack Obama over the long-stalled project.

After nearly three weeks of floor debate, the Senate passed the bill by a 62-36 vote. Debate on the legislation covered a range of topics, including prairie chickens, climate change and renewable energy.

Nine Democrats joined all of the Republicans present. The bill would authorize TransCanada Corp. , the Canadian company behind the project, to proceed, even though the Obama administration hasn’t completed its review of the project.

The Senate and House, which passed a Keystone bill earlier in January, must now reconcile differences between their Keystone measures before final legislation can be sent to the White House. The chambers are expected to work quickly, and the legislation could reach Mr. Obama’s desk within days.

Mr. Obama has threatened to veto the Keystone bills under consideration in Congress. It takes two-thirds of the House and Senate to overcome a veto.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest reiterated the administration’s opposition on Thursday. Mr. Obama has cited the State Department review process, which has been under way for more than six years, as the reason that the president would veto the legislation.

Republicans have made approving the pipeline a top priority in this Congress, describing the legislation as a jobs and infrastructure measure.

Many Democrats oppose the project, saying it has the potential to further the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels, and citing environmental risks that come with pipelines, including spills.

Keystone XL would move as many as 830,000 barrels of oil a day, mostly from Canada’s oil sands to Steele City, Neb., where it would connect with existing pipelines to Gulf Coast refineries. If completed, the pipeline system would span 1,700 miles and cross six U.S. states.

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