Today, the bill to approve the construction of the the Keystone XL pipeline hits the Senate, after the House approved Cassidy's legislation by 252-161 on Friday.
In an exciting twist, the Senate is apparently stuck at 59 votes in favor, one shy of the 60 needed to pass the legislation and send it to the Presidents desk. However, Mary Landrieu (D-LA) claimed yesterday to have secured the 60th vote. The bill hits the floor in what some say is an attempt to boost Landrieu's chances of maintaining her Senate seat in the December 6th runoff election she faces versus, oddly, the bill's sponsor, Bill Cassidy.
(Sounds cynical, yes, but given that the House has previously passed 8 seperate bills to push the vote on Keystone and none saw the Senate floor, it seems pretty reasonable as well.)
The jury is out on whether if the bill passes it will be vetoed by the President or not. He cited a legal challenge to the pipeline in Nebraska that is still ongoing, stating that "process should not be interfered with", but Secretary of State John Kerry recently made statements in Canada that implied the Administration may not veto a bill if it came down to it. It's really anyone's guess.
Obviously, this has been a lighting rod political issue for the over 6 years the project has been on hold. On one side there are environmental groups and people in the geography impacted, who are concerned with the climate impact, potential leaks, and the "doubling down" on a commitment to fossil fuels they see the pipeline as representing. On the other are groups who argue this strengthens our energy independence and supports American workers and the American economy versus that of other countries, and those who cite the immediate jobs boost the project will represent.
We've talked about some of these Keystone related issues before:
- Pipeline Stubborness: Canada's "Work-Around" and US Environmental Harm
- Progress on Keystone XL? Don't Get Your Hopes Up
- Energy Security, Not Independence, Should Be the Goal
There are 6 hours scheduled for debate on the floor, with the vote expected to occur at 6:15pm. Stay tuned!