US Senate panel advances bill to force Keystone XL approval
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate Energy Committee advanced a bill on Wednesday that would force congressional approval of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline project, but the measure seems unlikely to be taken up by the full Senate.
The bill, the latest effort by lawmakers to breathe life into the long-delayed pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, will languish without a commitment from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to bring it to a vote.
The measure, from Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Republican Sens. John Hoeven of North Dakota and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, would take a decision on approving the pipeline away from the Obama administration.
Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming termed Wednesday’s vote “a cheerleading exercise” but still voted for the bill in a 12-10 vote.
Another measure from Hoeven to approve the pipeline has 55 cosponsors but has not been put to a vote in the 100-member Senate. Support is just short of the level that would be needed to overcome an expected veto from President Barack Obama.
Last month, Senate Republicans blocked a bipartisan energy-efficiency bill backed by manufacturers and environmentalists.
TransCanada has waited more than five years a decision on the $5.4 billion project, which would carry up to 830,000 barrels per day of crude from the oil sands of northern Alberta to Texas.