UPDATE 2-U.S. Senator Reid opens door to Keystone pipeline vote

Tue Apr 29, 2014 8:10pm EDT
 
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* Reid has long opposed legislative efforts to approve Keystone

* Strategist says Reid support is about election and energy bill (Adds background, strategist on why Reid may be open to vote)

By Timothy Gardner and Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON, April 29 (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in an abrupt election-year shift in strategy, opened the possibility on Tuesday of allowing a vote on congressional approval of the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline.

"I'm open to anything that will move energy efficiency," Reid, a long-time foe of the project, told reporters.

He was referring to a bill that would save energy through tougher building codes sponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, and Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, that the Senate is expected to consider as early as next week.

Details were unclear, but in exchange for Republicans supporting the efficiency bill, Reid could permit a vote on a measure that would allow Congress to approve the bill of the pipeline. The vote could allow Democratic senators facing tough elections in November to be seen as supporting the project.

But even if the bill passes the Senate and a similar bill passes in the House of Representatives, it is likely that President Barack Obama would veto it.

The Obama administration has been considering the pipeline for more than five years. Earlier this month, the State Department said it would again delay a decision on the pipeline until the Nebraska Supreme Court settles a dispute over the path of the pipeline, effectively delaying the decision until after the Nov. 4 elections.   Continued...