UPDATE 1-U.S. Senator Reid leaves door open to Keystone pipeline vote

Tue Apr 29, 2014 3:45pm EDT
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(Adds details, Senator Thune quote, background)

WASHINGTON, April 29 (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday left open the possibility of voting on legislation forcing the approval of the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline that would link Canada's oil sands to refineries in Texas.

"I'm open to anything that will move energy efficiency," Reid said in response to a reporter's question, referring to a bipartisan bill on promoting energy savings through revised building codes.

The Senate is expected to debate the efficiency bill this week. It is sponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, and Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican.

The bill will likely be the last legislation debated on energy before midterm elections on Nov. 4, and Reid's comment suggested that a measure addressing Keystone approval could be added.

Reid said that talks with Republicans are continuing and initially he thought there would be a vote on a non-binding "sense of the Senate" resolution expressing support for TransCanada Corp's pipeline.

But now, Reid said, Republicans are asking for legislation that would have the force of law.

Earlier this month, the State Department said it would again delay a decision on the pipeline, approval of which has been pending for more than five years, until the Nebraska Supreme Court settles a dispute over what path the pipeline should take. The State Department leads the approval process because the pipeline would cross the national border.

The White House has threatened to veto previous attempts by Congress to force approval of the project, which would bring more than 800,000 barrels per day of Canada's oil sands petroleum to refiners along the U.S. Gulf.   Continued...