US Senate Fails to Approve Contested Canadian-US Oil Pipeline

Posted March 9th, 2012 at 4:15 am (UTC-5)
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The U.S. Senate has failed to approve a measure that would have bypassed U.S. President Barack Obama’s rejection of a proposed oil pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The Republican-sponsored amendment to a federal transportation bill would have allowed Calgary-based TransCanada to move forward on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline without the administration’s approval. Thursday’s 56-47 vote in favor of the amendment fell four votes short of the number needed for approval.

Mr. Obama personally called Democratic senators before the vote to urge them to vote against the amendment.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said the vote reveals how “deeply out of touch” the president and other Democrats are when it comes to middle-income Americans.

The proposed 2,700 kilometer pipeline would carry heavy crude oil from Alberta, Canada through six U.S. states to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico. Supporters say it would create jobs in the United States and lessen the country’s dependence on foreign oil. But environmentalists contend it could potentially harm a sensitive region in Nebraska.

White House spokesman Jay Carney described the bill as “an ineffectual, sham legislation,” and accused Republicans of playing politics on a project that does not have a settled route.

Republican lawmakers forced a deadline on Mr. Obama to make a quick decision on the project as part of a legislative deal to extend tax cuts for U.S. workers. The president rejected it back in January, saying he did not have enough time to properly review the project.

TransCanada says it will build a portion of the pipeline from an oil storage hub in Cushing, Oklahoma to a refinery in Port Arthur, Texas. The company plans to submit a revised plan for the full route to the U.S. State Department for its review.