UPDATE 2-Keystone oil pipeline bill fails in U.S. Senate

Thu Mar 8, 2012 5:28pm EST

* Democrats kill measure which needed 60 votes

* Obama called some senators and asked them to vote 'No'

* Plan to ban exports from pipeline also defeated

By Roberta Rampton and Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON, March 8 (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Democrats on Thursday defeated a Republican proposal to take quick action on the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline, in a vote that will give Republicans more ammunition to criticize President Barack Obama's energy policies on the campaign trail.

TransCanada's $7 billion project has been supported by some Democrats in the past, but Obama took the unusual step of calling some senators personally and asking them to vote against the proposal, drawing immediate fire from Republican leaders.

The measure needed 60 votes to pass, but fell four short.

Obama put the project on hold earlier this year pending further environmental review. Republicans argue the pipeline, which would ship oil from Canada and northern U.S. states to Texas, would create jobs and improve energy security at a time of surging gasoline prices. The project will take more than two years to build after winning all approvals.

By proposing the amendment, Republicans sought to wrest the approval process from Obama's control. They have also used the proposal to highlight his decision ahead of November presidential and congressional elections, linking his delaying of the pipeline project to rising gasoline prices.

"At a moment when millions are out of work, gas prices are sky-rocketing and the Middle East is in turmoil, we've got a president who's up making phone calls trying to block a pipeline here at home. It's unbelievable," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Obama has supported construction of the southern leg of the pipeline, and his administration will assess a new route around an environmentally sensitive area of Nebraska once it has been identified, White House spokesman Clark Stevens said.

"Once again, Republicans are trying to play politics with a pipeline project whose route has yet to be proposed," Stevens said.

The Keystone amendment was among 30 measures - many of them energy-related - being voted on as the Senate pushes in coming days to renew funding for highways and other infrastructure projects, slated to run out at the end of March.

Earlier, the Senate also defeated proposals to expand the area available for offshore oil drilling and extend the time for manufacturers to phase in new pollution regulations set by the Environmental Protection Agency for industrial boilers.

But the Keystone amendment attracted the most attention. The pipeline would carry crude from Canadian oil sands to Texas refineries and would also pick up U.S. crude from North Dakota and Montana along the way.

With a 34-64 vote, senators also defeated a proposal from Democratic Senator Ron Wyden that would have blocked exports of oil from the pipeline, as well as refined products made from the oil.

Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, who had championed the Republican plan to advance the pipeline, said the restrictions in the Democratic alternative would have blocked the project.

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Comments (5)
jbart wrote:
Lets get the damn pipeline rolling, doesn’t matter where across the country. I could see Obama’s point about putting it near towns and homes, so why not just build where it’s not really an environmental threat to any humans and not going through natural parks. I still stronly support the pipeline to reduce oil prices, to gain thousands of jobs, to save millions of dollars, especially to us struggling American and not depend with our fake allies in the Middle East.

Mar 08, 2012 2:03pm EST  --  Report as abuse
vhpeddler wrote:
2010 elections were about the GOP creating jobs, the House majority GOP failed to produce the jobs they ran their 2010 campain on as well as extending the so called ” Temperory Tax Cuts” for the job creators , again nothing happened. Mitch McConnell is again pounding the Scare Drum when his party has produce nothing. Mitch, take a cold shower. The Keystone will be sold to the highest bidder, not stay in the US. Stop your 8th grade politics.

Mar 08, 2012 2:41pm EST  --  Report as abuse
vhpeddler wrote:
Mithch McConnell is just not believible.

Mar 08, 2012 2:42pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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