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Entries in Keystone Pipeline (3)

Wednesday
Apr182012

House Approves Another Short-Term Highway Extension

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The House of Representatives voted Wednesday afternoon to overwhelmingly approve another 90-day extension of the highway bill, enabling the divided Congress to move forward on negotiations on a long-term agreement.

The bipartisan vote passed easily by a count of 293-127, with 69 Democrats joining the Republican majority in support of the measure, known formally as H.R. 4348, the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012. Just 14 Republicans opposed the bill.

The bill also included a provision authored by Nebraska Republican Lee Terry to strip approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline from the White House and compel the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve or disapprove the permit within 30 days.

The White House has threatened to veto the legislation, although the leadership crafted the bill without the intent of it ever reaching the president’s desk. After the vote, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, dismissed the president’s warning.

“The House is on record again in support of the Keystone XL energy pipeline -- a project President Obama blocked, personally lobbied against, then tried to take credit for, and now says he’ll veto,” Boehner wrote in a statement following the bill’s passage. “There’s no telling where the president stands from one day to the next on Keystone, but he knows the pipeline has broad and bipartisan support in Congress and among the American people. He knows it will create tens of thousands of new American jobs. And he knows that if he continues to stand in the way, the Canadian government will bypass the United States and ship their energy -- and the jobs that come with it -- to countries like China.”

It’s unclear how that rider will ultimately fare during conference negotiations, but Republicans added the provision to ensure it’d be a topic of negotiation at conference.

Over the past month, Democrats have pressured Republicans to vote on the Senate’s two-year, $109 billion bill, which was approved in a bipartisan vote in the upper chamber March 14 and did not include any language about the pipeline.

Instead, Republican sources say the House will use the latest 90-day extension as a legislative vehicle to move the negotiations to a bipartisan, bicameral conference.

Wednesday’s extension tacks on another 90 days to the end of the current authorization, which runs out June 30.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar212012

Obama Cuts Red Tape for Part of Keystone

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- During a visit to Cushing, Okla., on Thursday, President Obama will announce an Executive Order requiring expedited permitting and review of “vital infrastructure projects,” including the southern portion of the controversial Keystone pipeline.

The order will establish a multi-agency task force to identify the most urgent projects by the end of April and create a roadmap for permitting them by the end of May, the White House says.

The effort will streamline the existing ordeal by reducing duplicate efforts and enhancing coordination between decision-makers, officials say. It’s expected to “significantly reduce” the wait time for all major pending highway, port, airport, electricity transmission and pipeline projects.

Obama will also issue a presidential memorandum making the Cushing pipeline, which would run from Oklahoma to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico, a top priority.

“The need for pipeline infrastructure is urgent because rising American oil production is outpacing the capacity of pipelines to deliver oil to refineries,” the administration said in statement.

Obama will also make it clear that the expedited process must not sacrifice “the health, safety and security of communities and the environment.”

While the president’s announcement focuses on the domestic portion of the Keystone XL pipeline, Republicans have not relented in criticizing his decision to block the northern portion that would extend to the tar sands of Alberta, Canada.

"There is only one permit that matters for this pipeline, and the president continues to block it,” said Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. “The approval needed for this leg of the project is so minor and routine that only a desperate administration would inject the President of the United States into the process. This is like the governor holding a press conference to renew my driver’s license -- except this announcement still leaves American energy and jobs behind.”

Republicans and some Democrats have pressed Obama to approve the entire pipeline which is estimated to create thousands of jobs.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar082012

Senate Narrowly Rejects the Keystone Oil Pipeline Amendment

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama’s pipeline lobbying paid off...for now.

A controversial Republican amendment to a transportation bill, to mandate construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, has failed in the Senate.

The numbers may be a little too close for comfort for the White House: the amendment fell just short of the 60 votes needed for the amendment to be included in the final bill, at 56-42.

President Obama had personally lobbied Democrats, telephoning members of Congress directly to encourage them to reject the measure.

The amendment would have taken the pipeline’s approval process out of President Obama’s hands and mandated an expedited building of the pipeline project in light of the nation’s rising gas prices.

“The president obviously has communications with members of Congress with some regularity,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Thursday, confirming the lobbying effort. “We have made our position clear about purely ideological and political efforts to attach legislation regarding the Keystone pipeline to whatever some members of Congress fancy at the time.”

This pressure from the president put many moderate Democrats, some of whom are running for re-election from oil producing states that would benefit from the pipeline, in tough positions with their vote Thursday.

Ultimately, eleven Democrats voted in favor of the pipeline provision, bucking the White House’s stance on the issue -- Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va.

Not a single Republican voted against the measure. Sen. Kirk, R-Ill., and Sen. Thune, R-S.D., missed the vote.

This close vote will provide motivation for Republicans to keep pushing for the pipeline.

Moments after the vote Republicans vowed to keep fighting on this issue and said they were “heartened” by the 56 votes indicating that with work this could eventually get passed.

Republicans blamed President Obama for the failure of the measure.

“It was very strong words by President Obama himself making calls to the Democrats,” Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., said, "I suppose you can give credit to the president for once again blocking something."

“President Obama’s personal pleas to wavering Senators may have tipped the balance against this legislation,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kent., said in a statement, “When it comes to delays over Keystone, anyone looking for a culprit should now look no further than the Oval Office.”

The amendment would have been part of the $109 billion transportation bill that Senators have been debating on for weeks. After a deal was reached Wednesday night and the vote on amendments was held Thursday it looks like the bill will be on track for final passage next week before the March 31 deadline for passage.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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