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Obama says “no” to Keystone XL pipeline

Feb. 26, 2015, Washington, D.C. - President Barack Obama on Tuesday, as promised, swiftly vetoed a Republican bill approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline, leaving the long-debated project in limbo for another indefinite period.


February 26, 2015
By Reuters

The U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell, after receiving Obama's veto message, immediately countered
by announcing the Republican-led chamber would attempt to override it by
March 3.

That is unlikely. Despite their majority, Republicans are four votes short of being able to overturn Obama's veto.

They
have vowed to attach language approving the pipeline to a spending
bill or other legislation later in the year that the president would
find difficult to veto.

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The TransCanada
Corp pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels a day of mostly Canadian oil
sands crude to Nebraska en route to refineries and ports along the U.S.
Gulf. It has been pending for more than six years.

Obama,
who rejected the bill hours after it was sent to the White House, said
the measure unwisely bypassed a State Department process that will
determine whether the project would be beneficial to the United States.

"Through
this bill, the United States Congress attempts to circumvent
longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not
building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national
interest," he wrote in his veto message.

Republicans,
who support the project because of its job-creation potential, made
passing a bill a top priority after the November election, when they
gained control of the U.S. Senate and strengthened their majority in the
House of Representatives.

The bill passed by 270-152 in the House earlier this month and cleared the Senate in January.

Obama
has played down Keystone XL's ability to create jobs and raised
questions about its effects on climate change. Environmentalists, who
made up part of the coalition that elected the president in 2008 and
2012, oppose the project because of carbon emissions involved in getting
the oil it would carry out of Canadian tar sands.

TransCanada
Chief Executive Russ Girling said in a statement the company was “fully
committed” to Keystone XL despite Obama’s veto and would work with the
State Department to answer any questions it has about the project.

Opponents of the pipeline praised Obama's move.

"This
veto, along with the president’s increasing public skepticism about
Keystone XL … makes us more confident than ever that (the) president
will reject the permit itself once and for all," said Gene Karpinski,
president of the League of Conservation Voters, another pipeline
opponent.

Republicans lambasted Obama.

“The
president’s veto of the Keystone jobs bill is a national
embarrassment," said Republican House Speaker John Boehner. "The
president is just too close to environmental extremists to stand up for
America’s workers. He’s too invested in left-fringe politics to do what
presidents are called on to do, and that’s put the national interest
first."

Obama will make a final decision on the project once the State Department finishes its review, expected in the coming weeks.

But the issue is likely to remain central in Washington's political back-and-forth for some time.

The
chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Jason Chaffetz, sent a
letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday asking for all
reports and documents received by the State Department from other
government agencies about the project, according to an aide.


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