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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

President vetoes Keystone pipeline bill


President Barack Obama yesterday vetoed the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act (S. 1), which would have approved construction of the pipeline under congressional authority.

The bill attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest, said Obama in a statement.

"The presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously. But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people," he said. "And because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest — including our security, safety, and environment — it has earned my veto."

Introduced by Sens. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), the bipartisan measure had passed the Senate by a 62-to-35 vote and the House by a 270-to-152 vote. The pipeline would be used to transport crude from the Canadian oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries.

The president’s veto wasn't surprising, but it's a contradiction to the will of the American people, said Hoeven in a statement, adding that the pipeline is "about energy, jobs, economic growth and national security through energy security."

"This bill has passed both chambers of Congress and the American public has expressed its support for the project in poll after poll. Every state along the pipeline’s route has approved the project, and a series of environmental reviews completed over the course of six years have all concluded that the project will have no significant environmental impact," he said. "Yet, the president vetoed the bill because it 'cut short' his review process, which has already gone more than six years."

The senator plans to continue working with colleagues to override the veto and get the pipeline project approved.

"Another option is to attach this legislation to other energy, infrastructure or appropriations legislation that the president won’t want to veto," said Hoeven.

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) also expressed disappointment with the veto.

"The State Department has estimated that the pipeline will create 42,100 jobs. Their most recent environmental impact statement concludes that not building the pipeline creates greater safety and environmental risks than building, since the necessary oil would be transported through other means if not through the pipeline," he said. "And just this week, a new study concluded that an estimated 70 percent of the products produced from oil traveling through the pipeline would stay here at home."

But Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, applauded the president's decision.

"The Keystone tar sands pipeline does nothing for our country and everything for Canadian special interests. Reports have shown the pipeline project will increase the dangers of spills like the ones that occurred in Arkansas and Michigan, and will result in pollution that causes serious illnesses like asthma and increases in carbon pollution — the main cause of climate change," she said. "Instead of building this pipeline, which will only create 35 permanent jobs, the Republican leadership should immediately focus on passing a long-term transportation bill that will support millions of jobs."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/25/2015