(Adds details of vote, other Keystone bill)
By Ros Krasny
WASHINGTON, June 18 The U.S. Senate Energy
Committee advanced a bill on Wednesday that would force
congressional approval of TransCanada's proposed
Keystone XL oil pipeline project, but the measure seems unlikely
to be taken up by the full Senate.
The bill, the latest effort by lawmakers to breathe life
into the long-delayed pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf
Coast, will languish without a commitment from Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid to bring it to a vote.
The measure, from Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu of
Louisiana and Republican Senators John Hoeven of North Dakota
and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, would take a decision on approving
the pipeline away from the Obama administration.
Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming termed
Wednesday's vote "a cheerleading exercise" but still voted in
favor of the bill, part of a 12-10 majority on the panel.
Another measure from Hoeven to approve the pipeline has 55
cosponsors but has not been put to a vote in the 100-member
Senate. Support is just short of the level that would be needed
to overcome an expected veto from President Barack Obama.
"The obstacle to getting Keystone built is not the Energy
Committee, it's the Senate Majority Leader," Barrasso said of
Reid, a Democrat from Nevada. "The Senate Majority Leader could
have scheduled a vote at any time in the past seven weeks."
Last month, Senate Republicans blocked a bipartisan
energy-efficiency bill backed by manufacturers and
environmentalists, and by doing so forfeited a chance to vote on
the long-delayed pipeline.
Reid at the time had offered a vote on Hoeven's Keystone
bill if Republicans allowed passage of the energy bill.
TransCanada has waited more than five years a decision on
the $5.4 billion project, which would carry up to 830,000
barrels per day of crude from the oil sands of northern Alberta
to refiners in Texas.
(Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Susan Heavey)