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Keystone XL may be Landrieu's swan song

Opponents: Congress isn't permitting authority for controversial pipeline.

By Daniel J. Graeber
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Legislation in favor of Keystone XL pipeline may be last move for Sen. Mary Landrieu. (Courtesy TransCanada)
Legislation in favor of Keystone XL pipeline may be last move for Sen. Mary Landrieu. (Courtesy TransCanada)

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- "Elections have consequences" and it's time now to push ahead with a measure to pass the Keystone XL pipeline, a Senate Republican said.

Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Mary Landrieu, D-La., moved to bring a Keystone XL approval bill to the Senate floor for a vote. For Landrieu, it puts a cap on a three-year battle in support of the pipeline planned from Canada.

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For Hoeven and Landrieu, chairwoman of the Senate Energy Committee, it's at least the second attempt at pushing for legislation that would authorize pipeline company TransCanada's application to build the pipeline.

Similar bills have stalled because of opposition from Senate Democrats. Hoeven said Wednesday he needs the support of 15 Democrats like Landrieu to pass the latest effort.

The bill may be one of Landrieu's last legislative actions as she faces a tough challenge to retain her seat in Louisiana. She faces Republican challenger Bill Cassidy in a runoff election next month.

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"Elections have consequences," Hoeven said in a statement.

Republicans won enough seats in the next Congress to take control of the Senate. That means action next year on Keystone would be secured from a filibuster threat from a Democratic Party moving into the minority.

The oil industry's lobby group, the American Petroleum Institute, praised the Landrieu-Hoeven measure as a bipartisan piece of legislation that "reflects the will of the American people."

The White House had threatened to veto similar measures in support of Keystone XL. The permit process awaits a decision from a Nebraska court considering whether or not the state's governor has authority over the pipeline's route.

Danielle Droitsch, director of the Canada Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said approving a pipeline carrying a grade of Canadian oil thought to be bad for the environment would be the wrong decision for any Congress.

"The Congress is not set up to be a permitting authority, and this pipeline doesn't even have an approved route," she said in a statement. "The ongoing review process should continue, and the decades-long precedent of having the executive branch make decisions on cross-border projects should not be overturned."

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