CALGARY, Alberta, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- The equivalent of eight Keystone XL oil pipelines have been built in the United States since an application was submitted, planner TransCanada said Tuesday.
Members of a lame-duck Senate vote Tuesday on a bill that would authorize the construction of the cross-border Keystone XL oil pipeline. A similar bill passed through the U.S. House of Representatives last week.
Russ Girling, president and chief executive officer at TransCanada, said he was "very pleased" with the level of support on Capitol Hill for the controversial pipeline.
It's been more than six years since Girling's company submitted an application to build the pipeline across the U.S.-Canadian border. In a statement Tuesday, Girling said it was disappointing that the equivalent of eight Keystone XL pipelines have been built in the United States since then.
"And yet our project sits idle, all while the U.S. continues to import 7 million barrels of oil from unstable countries that do not share American values," he said. "It makes no sense to receive oil from the Middle East and Venezuela and not from a friendly neighbor in Canada."
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a weekly report published Thursday the United States imported 2.5 million barrels of oil per day from Canada for the week ending Nov 7, nearly three times as much as the No. 2 oil exporter to the United States, Venezuela.
Combined, the United States imported 1.6 million bpd from the Middle East for the week ending Nov. 7.
Supporters of the pipeline argue it would be a source of economic stimulus and energy security. Opponents argue it serves primarily as a pipeline for the export of Canadian crude oil, which they say is far more damaging to the environment than conventional crude oil.
Keystone XL backers are rallying behind a bill co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu that comes up for a vote Tuesday. Landrieu, a Democrat, is at risk of losing her Senate seat to Republican challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy, whose Keystone bill passed through the House last week.
Landrieu has said she may have enough Democrats willing to cross the aisle to support a pipeline at the top of the Republican agenda for the next Congress.
When Landrieu introduced a similar bill in May, Oil Change International, an advocacy group opposed to Keystone XL, said she was among those lawmakers backing the pipeline who received major campaign support from the oil industry.
The fate of Keystone XL rests in part on a court case in Nebraska challenging the state governor's authority to sanction the pipeline's route through the state. The Obama administration has said that decision needs to play out first, and the president himself has said he may consider a veto should legislators try to force the issue.