The vote to authorize immediate construction of the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline may come to a crucial head next week, as two Senators introduced a bill on Thursday calling for binding legislation.
Lead sponsors Senators Mary Landrieu, D-La., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., are trying to wrestle control of the decision-making process from the White House, which has waffled for more than five years and disregarded five major approval-granting studies, the Times-Picayune reported.
“The construction of the Keystone Pipeline is very important to create thousands of high-paying jobs, push our economy forward and send a signal to the world that North America intends to step up competition and become an energy powerhouse,” said Landrieu, fighting a tough reelection campaign in Louisiana. “The review process has been thorough. The five studies conducted as required by law are complete. It is time to stop studying and start building. We cannot lose this opportunity to create tens of thousands of jobs and $7 billion in economic activity.”
As chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Landrieu has come under withering criticism from her Republican challengers for not having already passed legislation to approve the project.
Last year, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., authorized a non-binding Sense of the Senate vote which passed 62-37. But he is caught in a bind if he allows a stronger vote next week. The Republican-controlled House has already passed binding legislation to go forwards, and if Landrieu succeeds to achieve 60 yeas, she breaks the democratic filibuster. If he doesn’t allow the vote, or attempts to attach it as an amendment to a comprehensive energy-efficiency bill, he delays the process and exacerbates the struggle of six supporting Democratic senators fighting for their political lives.
Whether the Senate could muster 67 votes to override a presidential veto is another question altogether, but Landrieu told reporters that “Many Democrats, like myself, believe this pipeline should have been built some time ago, so we are frustrated with the slowness of the process,” the Times reported.
White House spokesman Jay Carney rebuffed Landrieu’s effort, saying, “Our position hasn’t changed, which is that this has to be run by the book, which is why the State Department is running the process on Keystone…outside of politics, and that’s the way it’s being run.”
Ironically, European allies and Ukrainian leaders have urged Secretary of State John Kerry to expedite the process and decrease their dependency on Russian energy supplies, but the ideologue in the White House refuses to budge from his opposition.
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