Keystone oil pipeline bill fails in Senate

Thu Mar 8, 2012 8:25pm EST
 
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By Roberta Rampton and Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Democrats on Thursday defeated a Republican proposal to give a permit to the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline in a vote that will give Republicans more ammunition to criticize President Barack Obama's energy policies on the campaign trail.

Republicans argue the pipeline, which would ship oil from Canada and northern states to Texas, would create jobs and improve energy security at a time of surging gasoline prices.

Obama put TransCanada's $7 billion project on hold earlier this year pending further environmental review. He took the unusual step of calling some senators personally ahead of the vote, asking them to reject the proposal.

"He understood that a majority of the American public, a majority at least in the Senate, are strongly in favor of this project," said Senator Richard Lugar, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations committee, who sponsored the bill to take control of the pipeline decision away from Obama.

The Republicans tried to advance their plan as an amendment to a highway funding bill. It failed on a vote of 56-42, four short of the 60 needed to pass, although 11 Democratic senators voted with the Republicans.

Republicans are using the proposal to highlight Obama's delay of the project ahead of November presidential and congressional elections, linking his decision to rising gasoline prices.

"We're going to continue this fight," said Republican Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, who championed the bill.

He told reporters he hoped the measure might still be attached to the highway funding package when the Senate and House of Representatives work on a final version.   Continued...

 
Protestors rally in front of the Lamar County courthouse where landowner Julia Trigg Crawford is set to go to court in a battle with TransCanada over the trenching of her private property for the Keystone pipeline in Paris, Texas February 17, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Stone