UPDATE 2-Republicans push Keystone bill, White House threatens veto

Tue Jan 6, 2015 4:52pm EST
 
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(Adds reaction from Canadian prime minister and TransCanada)

By Timothy Gardner and Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON Jan 6 (Reuters) - Republican senators kicked off the new U.S. Congress with legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline to bring oil from Canada, but the White House promptly threatened a veto.

With Republicans assuming full control of Congress on Tuesday after victories in the November elections, they have put Keystone at the center of their agenda and plan weeks of debate.

They believe that the public spotlight on Keystone will pressure President Barack Obama to eventually approve the project.

The White House was adamant that Obama would not sign the Keystone bill.

"There is already a well-established process in place to consider whether or not infrastructure projects like this are in the best interest of the country," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.

Senator John Hoeven, a North Dakota Republican, introduced a bill to approve TransCanada Corp's project that would transport more than 800,000 barrels per day of mostly Canadian heavy oil to Nebraska en route to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Obama, who has been considering the pipeline for six years, has opposed previous Keystone bills, saying the State Department needs to complete its approval process.   Continued...