House Passes Bill to Approve Keystone Over Obama Objections

Nov. 14 (Bloomberg) — The House of Representatives passed

a bill to approve building the Keystone XL pipeline in defiance

of President Barack Obama, who today challenged supporters’

arguments that the pipeline will help the U.S. economy.

The Republican-led House passed the measure 252-161, with

31 Democrats in support. The bill will be considered in the

Democratic-led Senate Nov. 18, where an aide who spoke on

condition of anonymity said supporters have 59 of 60 votes

needed to pass it.

Obama could still veto a bill if it passes the Senate.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California

Republican, said he thinks the pipeline will ultimately be

built.

“You just had an election where the people are asking

Congress to find common ground,” McCarthy said, noting

bipartisan support for the Keystone bill. “And it provides

jobs. So I’m feeling very positive about it.”

TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone became the first major topic

for Congress’s lame-duck session after Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu, facing a Dec. 6 runoff in Louisiana, proposed a vote

on her bill to bypass the government review and approve the

pipeline. Until now, majority Democrats had blocked a similar

measure to circumvent the administration.

That prompted House Republicans to schedule today’s vote on

identical legislation sponsored by Representative Bill Cassidy,

a Louisiana Republican and Landrieu’s challenger for the last

undecided Senate seat.

Canada’s Oil

One of the Democrats targeted by pipeline supporters,

Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, said through a spokesman that

he’ll vote against the measure. That will make it harder for

Keystone backers to reach the 60-vote threshold.

Before the House vote, Obama offered his most pointed

comments yet on the pipeline, directly challenging Republican

claims the project would create a significant number of jobs and

would lower gasoline prices.

“Understand what this project is: It is providing the

ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land

down to the Gulf where it will be sold everywhere else,” the

president said today during a visit to Yangon, Myanmar. “It

doesn’t have an impact on U.S. gas prices.”

Oil Dependence

Keystone will make the U.S. less dependent on oil from

nations that aren’t as close an ally as Canada, Representative

Ed Whitfield, a Kentucky Republican, said yesterday during

debate on the measure.

House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said that

the bill would “lower energy costs and create more jobs.”

In the House, none of the Republicans opposed the bill.

Representative Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican, voted

“present.”

“There continues to be strong bipartisan support for

Keystone XL and we are encouraged by any effort to move this

process forward,” TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard said in an

e-mail.

TransCanada, a Calgary-based pipeline company, proposed

Keystone six years ago, in 2008. It has since become a

battleground over jobs, climate change, and energy security.

Obama indicated he thinks its importance is inflated.

“I have to constantly push back against this idea that

somehow the Keystone pipeline is either this massive jobs bill

for the United States or is somehow lowering gas prices,” he

said today.

Environmentalists criticized the House action.

“The vote supported a destructive project with no

redeeming value for anyone other than TransCanada,” Luisa

Abbott Galvao, a climate and energy associate with Friends of

the Earth, an environmental group, said in a statement.

To contact the reporters on this story:

Jim Snyder in Washington at

jsnyder24@bloomberg.net;

Kathleen Hunter in Washington at

khunter9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:

Jodi Schneider at

jschneider50@bloomberg.net;

Jon Morgan at

jmorgan97@bloomberg.net

Laurie Asseo

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