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Keystone clears another hurdle on the road to construction

TransCanada’s (ticker: TRP) Keystone XL pipeline received Senate approval yesterday in a bipartisan 62-to-36 vote in favor of allowing the pipeline. Nine Democrats joined 53 Republicans to pass the measure, but the 62 votes will not be enough to override a presidential veto should President Obama decide not to pass the measure once it reaches his desk.

President Obama initially said that his concern with passing legislation concerning the pipeline centered around whether or not the project would adversely affect the environment, and with ongoing legal action being taken to stop the pipeline in Nebraska. Those hold-ups were recently removed.  With the State Department’s final statement saying the cumulative effects of the project would be negligible, and the Nebraska Supreme Court greenlighting the pipeline, the president’s last concern is a procedural one.

In a press conference earlier this month, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest confirmed that President Obama would veto any measure on Keystone, saying that Congress would be circumventing the State Department. “I can confirm for you that if this bill passes this Congress, the president wouldn’t sign it either,” Earnest said.

The State Department has been reviewing the pipeline for more than six years in order to decide whether or not the project is in the national interest. The bill currently being worked on would approve the pipeline immediately, with or without approval from the State Department.

Proponents of the bill say that building the pipeline will create more than 40,000 jobs and help strengthen the energy security of the United States. According to the State Department’s final environmental impact report, of the 42,100 jobs the project could support, 21,050 jobs would last the entirety of the two-year construction period, with only 35 being permanent positions to operate the pipeline after construction is finished.

The bill passed by the Senate yesterday, and the version passed in the House earlier this month, will need to be reconciled before being sent to the executive office for final approval. Asked Thursday about the vote, Press Secretary Earnest reiterated that the president would veto a Keystone bill.

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