* Wednesday vote is fourth for House on pipeline
* White House has threatened to veto bill
* Rep Lee Terry-"It may not be the last rodeo."
By Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON, April 18 The U.S. House of
Representatives is scheduled to vote on the Keystone XL project
for the fourth time in two years on Wednesday, but the Nebraska
Republican who has championed the oil pipeline from Canada knows
it well may not be the last.
The pipeline, put on hold by President Barack Obama earlier
this year, has taken on an outsized political profile heading
into the November elections as Republicans use it to attack
Obama's economic and energy policies.
"I've been through the Keystone rodeo before," said U.S.
Representative Lee Terry, expressing optimism that, this time, a
bill he drafted just might lead to a deal to advance
TransCanada's $7 billion pipeline.
But Terry, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce
committee, also recognized that his bill, expected to pass the
House on Wednesday as part of a short-term extension of highway
and infrastructure funding, faces a rough ride ahead.
The bill would strip Obama of his authority to rule on the
pipeline. The White House said on Tuesday that Obama would veto
the bill, if it makes it to his desk.
The Democratic president, who has backed the southernmost
portion of the line from Oklahoma to Texas, p ut a hold on the
rest of the project earlier this year, insisting a portion of
the pipeline in Nebraska needs more environmental review.
"We'll keep swinging," Terry vowed in an interview. "It may
not be the last rodeo."
TOP TARGET FOR GREEN GROUPS
Environmental groups have vehemently opposed Keystone
because it would bring in crude from Canada's oil sands, which
they argue is dirtier than other types of crude oil.
They are concerned about the risk posed by spills from the
pipeline, have contested estimates of jobs created by the
project, and have raised awareness about the growth in U.S.
exports of refined oil products.
Last year, thousands of protesters encircled the White
House, and hundreds were arrested.
The state of Nebraska was also concerned that the pipeline's
original route went through the sensitive Sandhills region and
over a major aquifer.
The state government now supports a new route proposed by
TransCanada. Some groups in the state said they
plan a legal challenge.
SENATE COULD BUCK BILL
Terry said he expects the Republican-led House will pass a
bill later on Wednesday to extends funding for highway and other
infrastructure projects until the end of September.
Attached to that bill is his text, which would transfer
authority for approving the pipeline to the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission, and require the regulator to quickly
The focus would then turn to the Democratic-controlled
Senate, which would need to agree to the short-term fix on
In March, the Senate agreed on a two-year, $109 billion plan
for transportation. The House has been unable to agree on a
The Senate considered adding approval for Keystone to its
highway bill, but the measure failed in a 56-42 vote, four short
of the 60 votes needed to pass. Obama took the unusual step of
calling some senators directly before the vote, asking them to
reject the proposal.
Still, 11 Democratic senators voted for the plan. Terry
thinks that negotiations on a short-term highway funding bill
that includes Keystone could pass a House-Senate conference
committee, and that could make Obama rethink the veto threat.
"If we could get enough votes in the Senate, I could almost
guarantee the White House would become more reasonable," Terry