U.S. House to try again to advance Keystone pipeline

Fri Apr 13, 2012 7:00pm EDT
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By Roberta Rampton and David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House Speaker John Boehner will make a new attempt to force approval of the stalled Keystone XL oil pipeline as part of legislation for another 90-day extension of federal road, bridge and transit construction funding, Republican aides said on Friday.

By seeking a second short-term funding extension, the plan aims to put the Canada-to-Texas pipeline and expanded drilling rights back at the top of the House agenda without the struggles that the House has endured in trying to pass a longer-term, more expensive transport bill.

A House vote could come as early as next week.

Boehner has made the Keystone pipeline, designed to carry crude from the northern Alberta oil sands, and the transportation funding bill centerpieces of his jobs agenda.

But he could not win the support of fiscally conservative Republicans for a full-blown, five-year $260 billion measure. So he resorted to an initial 90-day extension that was enacted at the end of March.

The new proposal will face certain opposition in the Democratic-controlled Senate but allows Republicans to portray themselves to voters as supporting expansion of North American energy production in the face of rising gasoline prices.

President Barack Obama earlier this year put a hold on TransCanada's $7 billion project because he said it needed further environmental review. A southern leg of the pipeline has since been approved.

"American families and small businesses are struggling with high gas prices, and President Obama's policies are only making things worse," a House Republican leadership aide said.   Continued...

The Keystone Oil Pipeline is pictured under construction in North Dakota in this undated photograph released on January 18, 2012. REUTERS/TransCanada Corporation/Handout