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Keystone XL Approval Bill Squeaks by but Alienates Former Supporters

[node:summary]Keystone XL pipeline bill circumventing presidential approval won in U.S. House of Representatives but alienated previous supporters.
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Although the U.S. House of Representatives voted 241-175 on May 22 to favor a bill that would have eliminated the need for Presidential approval of the Keystone XL pipeline’s northern leg, the move may have done little more than disenfranchise some of its supporters.

Democratic support for the Republican-introduced bill fell dramatically compared to other Keystone XL legislation, the political blog The Hill reported. Just 19 Democrats voted for H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, The Hill said—many fewer than have supported Keystone XL initiatives in the past.

President Barack Obama had been planning to veto the bill anyway, since it would have allowed TransCanada, the Canadian company proposing the pipeline, to leapfrog over parts of the approval process.

“The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 3,” Obama’s office said in a letter stating administration policy. “H.R. 3 conflicts with longstanding executive branch procedures regarding the authority of the President, the Secretaries of State, the Interior and the Army, and the EPA administrator. In addition, the bill is unnecessary because the Department of State is working diligently to complete the permit decision process for the Keystone XL pipeline. The bill prevents the thorough consideration of complex issues that could have serious security, safety, environmental and other ramifications.”

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While deeming the House vote “disappointing,” Natural Resources Defense Council spokesperson Franz Matzner said it was heartening that Congressional support had dropped.

“While the outcome was disappointing, today’s vote showed that more members of Congress than ever recognize the facts about the flawed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline project,” he said in a statement from the council. “The facts are: It would pipe some of the dirtiest oil on the planet through America’s heartland for export overseas. It would jeopardize thousands of jobs and endanger farms ranches and communities with spills. And it would be a disaster for the climate.”

Tribes, environmentalists and many others are fighting the controversial pipeline, which would have the capacity to carry more than 800,000 barrels of bituminous crude daily from Canada’s infamous oil sands of Alberta.