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On Wednesday, the House of Representatives approved a bill that would green light the construction of the much-debated Keystone XL pipeline. The bill passed in the House 270-152, with 29 Democrats voting in support of the measure. All but one lone Republican House member voted "yes". Having already passed in the Senate in January by 62-36, the bill now goes to President Obama's desk, where it will most likely be vetoed. Proponents of the bill will not likely garner the two-thirds majority required to override the presidential veto.
While President Obama may very likely reject the bill, that is not necessarily the end of the Keystone Pipeline extension. Since the project crosses an international border, he still holds the final say whether or not the construction moves forward. President Obama has made it clear that his decision will likely be swayed by the potential environmental damage the Keystone extension could bring. Last year, a State Department review said the new portion of the pipeline would not result in a notable increase of carbon pollution. It also concluded that the construction project would create 42,000 jobs. That figure is significantly smaller than the 140,000 jobs projected by TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline.
The debate over the project has been going on for years. According to the New York Times, the political fight is more symbolic than substantial at this point. Environmentalists maintain that the 1,179-mile (1,897-km) pipeline extension would harm the fragile boreal ecosystem in Canada and contribute to climate change. On the other side of the debate, Republican leaders say the American public supports the Keystone construction. They also highlight the project as a means to boost America's economy and energy independence.
TransCanada CEO Explains Why Keystone is in U.S. National Interest: Energy Security & Jobs (via TransCanada)
Energy and Commerce Committee (via The U.S. State Department)
Congress Passes Keystone Bill, Sets Up First Veto in 5 Years (via Time Magazine)
"Congress passed a bill to authorize the Keystone XL pipeline, setting up the first veto since 2010 and only the third in the Obama presidency."
Keystone XL Oil Pipeline: A Symbolic Struggle Steeped In Fuzzy Math (via The Huffington Post)
"At the end of September, the mayor of tiny Atkinson, Neb., sat calmly waiting for an invasion. David Frederick's rural outpost of about 1,000 residents, set along the northeastern edge of Nebraska's Sandhills, was about to see its population briefly swelled by a phalanx of U.S. State Department officials, itinerant union laborers, ranchers, farmers, environmentalists and reporters."