US Senate blocks Canada oil pipeline

2012-03-09 14:01
Washington - Under pressure from the White House, the Democratic-controlled Senate blocked a Republican bid on Thursday to speed approval of an oil pipeline from Canada to Texas.

The 56-42 vote came after President Barack Obama called Democratic senators to urge them to oppose the 2 735km Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil from western Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Even so, 11 Democrats sided with Republicans to sidestep Obama's rejection of the pipeline and allow the $7bn project to go forward. Sixty votes were needed for approval.

The leader of the Senate's Republican minority, Senator Mitch McConnell blasted Obama after the vote.

"President Obama's personal pleas to wavering senators may have tipped the balance against this legislation. When it comes to delays over Keystone, anyone looking for a culprit should now look no further than the Oval Office," McConnell said.

Democratic opposition to the pipeline "shows how deeply out of touch they are with the concerns of middle-class Americans", McConnell added.

Playing politics


White House press secretary Jay Carney confirmed that Obama called senators but did not identify them.

"The president believes that it is wrong to play politics with a pipeline project whose route has yet to be proposed," Carney said, referring to a yet-to-be-settled route that would avoid the environmentally sensitive Sandhills region in Nebraska.

Obama had cited uncertainty over the Nebraska route in rejecting the pipeline in January. The president said there was not enough time for a fair review before a deadline forced on him by Republicans.

Carney dismissed Republican claims that the pipeline would ease rising prices at the gas pump as "false advertising".

Carney called the Republican proposal "ineffectual sham legislation that has no impact on the price of gas and is irresponsible because, as we said before, it tries to legislate the approval of a pipeline for which there is not even a route".

The State Department initially had blocked the project in November, citing worries about a proposed route through the Sandhills.

Political football


Pipeline supporters, including congressional Republicans, the oil industry and some labour groups, have been attacking Obama for blocking the pipeline, which they say could create thousands of jobs and provide a stable source of oil from a close neighbour and ally.

Democrats and environmental groups counter that the pipeline would transport "dirty oil" that takes huge amounts of energy to extract, which would add to the pollution blamed for global warming. They also worry about a catastrophic oil spill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said the Republican amendment, sponsored by Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, would have short-circuited the process needed to plan the best route for the pipeline.

"If Republicans truly want to move ahead with this pipeline, they should stop treating it like a political football," Reid said, noting that the Republicans inserted a pipeline provision into an unrelated tax bill in December.

It was that bill that led to Obama's rejection of the pipeline in January.

Bottleneck


The pipeline operator, Calgary-based TransCanada, said last month it would build a portion of the pipeline from Oklahoma to Texas. That 780km line from Cushing, Oklahoma, to Port Arthur, Texas, does not require presidential approval because it does not cross a US border.

The Obama administration had suggested development of an Oklahoma-to-Texas line to alleviate an oil bottleneck at a Cushing storage hub.

"Half of the pipeline is already being built, and the company building the pipeline is submitting another application for the remainder of the route," Reid said, adding that the permit process should be given time to work and not be affected by Republican desires "to appease the tea party or big oil companies".


Read more on:    barack obama  |  us

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.