A New Push to Pass the Keystone Pipeline Bill, and Why It’s Bad News for the Environment

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keystone xl pipeline

US Congress pushes to pass Keystone pipeline bill; the construction of an oil pipeline running from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico

Just hours after Congress returns from a seven-week recess, and running on the accolades of the November 4 congressional elections where Republicans campaigned heavily for the Keystone pipeline, congress could pass an approved bill on to President Obama by as soon as next week, notwithstanding the many objections from Democrats.

Despite the arguments and the increased development and growth of alternative energies, republicans believe it to be impossible for America to be energy independent without the Keystone pipeline or other similar pipelines. The bill to install such a pipeline was introduced on May 1 by Sen. Landrieu, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and  Sen. John Hoeven a Republican from North Dakota.

At this point, Landrieu acknowledges that there is no commitment from Obama as to whether he would sign a Keystone bill, even after being passed by Congress. Currently, Obama is in Asia, and a spokesman said that the White House would probably take a dim view of this proposal. In the past, such proposals have been passed over by the White House administration.

Josh Earnest, a White House spokesperson says, “Upon evaluating earlier proposals of this nature, the president’s senior advisers recommend he veto this type of legislation.”

 

Why the Fast Move?

Republican Rep., Bill Cassidy is currently challenging Landrieu for her Senate seat, so she is moving fast on this bill. Landrieu has long worked in favor of the TransCanada Keystone project.

Cassidy has responded in turn, by introducing a similar bill in the House, and other versions have already passed the Republicans’ point of view. However, for six years, the Obama administration has been considering the approval of the pipeline that would run from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, the project faces court challenges in Nebraska over the chosen route.

Environmentalists and many Democrats argue against the extraction and transportation of this crude oil, and view it as an additional strain on global climate change problems. Another obstacle to this bill is the current negotiation between China and the United States, the biggest users of fossil fuels, a negotiation that puts restrictions in place to further limit emissions that cause climate change.

The House is set to vote on Keystone as early as Thursday, and if the Senate approves the bill, they may take the decision out of Obama’s hands. However, it would still be up to Obama sign the bill into law, or to veto it and challenge Congress to override his decision.

The good news is that the pipeline project still needs Presidential approval because it crosses international borders. This issue has put environmentalists up in arms, and they have started lobbying against the legislative effort.

Danielle Droitsche of the National Resources Defense Council says:

“This was a bad idea when it started six years ago and is still a bad one. This would mean that more of the world’s dirtiest resource flows through the United States, threatens water supplies and puts natural resources and wildlife at risk of fire and other issues. Besides, a pipeline would only worsen the climate changes we now experience because of harmful emissions in the air.”