House passes Keystone XL legislation; will test veto pen

White House out of step with national consensus, support says.

By Daniel J. Graeber

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- The presidential veto pen could draw first ink in 2015 after the Republican-led House passed legislation in support of the Keystone XL oil pipeline Wednesday.

The House of Representatives passed the bill with a vote of 270-152. Twenty-nine Democrats joined House Republicans in the vote for the legislation.


Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., was the only Republican to vote against the measure.

A coalition of energy groups in the United States issued letters to the House in support of the legislation, which is meant to advance the construction of the pipeline meant to cross the U.S.-Canadian border.

James P. Hoffa, president of the powerful Teamsters Union, said building the pipeline would bring net benefits to the United States.

"If the pipeline is not built, important socio-economic benefits will not be realized," his letter reads.

The House took up a Senate bill sponsored by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., to build the pipeline. Hoeven said in a late Tuesday statement the White House needs to get in line behind what he said was growing support for the pipeline.


"The president needs to work with Congress in a bipartisan way and approve the Keystone XL pipeline project for the American people," he said.

An executive order mandates the State Department to consider the pipeline against national interests. White House spokesman Josh Earnest has said President Barack Obama would veto any measure meant to get around the normal vetting procedures.

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommended additional considerations be made for Keystone XL "due to the potential implications of lower oil prices on project impacts, especially greenhouse gas emissions."

TransCanada countered the EPA's position by noting Keystone XL was submitted when oil was around $40 per barrel. In a letter sent Wednesday to the U.S. State Department, TransCanada Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling argued again in favor of the pipeline.

"We will assist in reviewing the issues raised by the EPA related to current low oil prices and their impact on greenhouse gas emissions associated with the pipeline should [the State Department] determine that further review is required," he said.

The bill under consideration doesn't have enough support in either chamber of Congress to overcome a veto.


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