Alabama congressmen defy environmental groups, unanimously back Keystone XL pipeline
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives on Friday passed a bill approving the Keystone XL pipeline with bi-partisan support that included every member of Alabama’s congressional delegation, including Democrat Terri Sewell, who was one of 31 Democrats who broke ranks to vote in favor of the bill.
If approved, the pipeline would transport oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf coast, which advocates say would create tens of thousands of jobs. But for the past six years, approval of the $8 billion project has been at the mercy of the Obama administration because it crosses international borders.
The bill passed Friday by the House circumvents the need for executive branch approval. But although it easily skated through the House 252-161, supporters in the Senate expressed concerns that they are still one vote shy of the 60-votes they need to push it through when it comes to the floor on Tuesday.
The Obama administration has also indicated that the president would strongly consider vetoing the legislation if it ultimately made it to his desk.
Environmental groups, who oppose the pipeline because they believe it will increase global warming, have seen their stranglehold over Democratic lawmakers loosen after Republican successes on election day.
Republicans don’t take control of the senate until January, but Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu, the Democrat who currently chairs the Senate Energy Committee, is trying to fend off Republican congressman Bill Cassidy in a runoff election set to take place in early December. With Louisiana’s economy so dependent on oil, Landrieu has suddenly become a major supporter of the pipeline and is co-sponsoring the Senate bill to approve it. Cassidy sponsored the bill passed by the House on Friday.
If the bill doesn’t pass on Tuesday, Republicans say they will reintroduce it next year once they’ve officially taken the majority.
In addition to the unanimous support the pipeline has garnered from Alabama’s seven congressmen, the state’s two senators have also been vocal advocates for the project.
“In my time here in the Senate, this is one of the most inexplicable actions by a president I’ve ever seen,” Sen. Jeff Sessions said after Obama indefinitely postponed making a decision on the pipeline earlier this year. “The facts continue to come forward to justify this pipeline for jobs in America, for lower cost energy in America, for importing oil from our ally Canada, where the people buy a great deal from us… Does Venezuela buy a lot from us? Or Saudi Arabia, or other places that we buy oil from? No… I’m just astounded that it has not been approved today.”
— Richard Shelby (@SenShelby) September 19, 2014
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