US House approves bill for Keystone oil pipeline

2015-01-10 11:34
Environmental activists protest against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. (Don Emmert, AFP)

Environmental activists protest against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. (Don Emmert, AFP)

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Washington - The US House overwhelmingly passed a bill on Friday authorising a major oil pipeline, despite a renewed pledge by the White House to veto the legislation after a state court removed a major obstacle.

The Keystone XL pipeline has been one of the biggest areas of conflict between President Barack Obama and Congress, which Republicans took full control of this week for the first time since he took office.

The pipeline would move tar sands oil from Canada 1 900km south to refineries on Gulf of Mexico Coast. Supporters say it would create jobs and ease American dependence on Middle East oil. Critics argue that the drilling is environmentally harmful, and said much of the Canadian crude would be exported with little or no impact on America's drive to reduce oil imports, which have already been greatly reduced because of record US oil production.

The House on Friday approved the measure 266-152, with 28 Democrats voting in support. It was one of the first pieces of legislation considered by the Republican-controlled Congress and the 10th vote the House had taken since July 2011 to advance the $8bn project.

"We shouldn't be debating it, we should be building it," said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who noted that more than 2 000 days had passed since the pipeline was first proposed in 2008.

The Senate has a test vote on Monday with enough support to pass an identical bill.

Hours before the House vote, Nebraska's highest court tossed out a lawsuit challenging the pipeline's route, an obstacle the White House said it needed removed to make a decision.

The White House veto threat was based partly on the outstanding Nebraska case. Obama has said he needed the state court ruling before deciding whether the cross-border pipeline is in the national interest.

Read more on:    us  |  energy  |  environment

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