Senate set to pass Keystone XL bill; Obama vows to veto

(Photo Credit: Tarsandsaction via Flickr Creative Commons)

The controversial Keystone XL pipeline continued to wend its way through Congress this week.

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Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski introduced the bill that would approve the cross-border permit necessary to build the pipeline. She stressed that the basic bill would neither threaten property rights nor evade environmental studies, but echoed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s pledge for an open amendment process.

“As we go forward in these days, I am encouraging members on both sides, bring your amendments forward,” invited Senator Murkowski. “Let’s have the give and take, the back and forth that this Senate was once so famous for.”

Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey did just that, previewing his amendment.

“So what the amendment says is that if the oil is drilled for in Canada, put through a pipeline in the U. S., that that oil cannot be exported,” he said as he introduced his amendment on the Senate floor. “That oil stays in the U.S., that the promise of energy independence in North America is what the agenda is all about. Because otherwise the U.S. is taking all of these environmental risks, the planet is taking all of these environmental risks, but the economic benefits are not flowing to consumers, drivers in the United States who finally feel some relief at the pump.”

Despite the fact the Keystone bill is likely to pass the Senate, Democrats are lining up amendments to force a show of hands on issues like climate change and the human role in accelerating it.

The Congressional push to force approval of the Keystone XL cross-border permit followed last week’s Nebraska Supreme Court decision that paved the way for the state to use eminent domain to seize property for the pipeline.

The Senate is scheduled to begin debate on proposed amendments Tuesday. President Obama has vowed to veto the measure.

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