Yesterday’s Republican Party gains in the Senate put the passing of legislation that would give the go ahead to the Keystone XL pipeline within the party’s reach. After six years of debate on the pipeline, the GOP is on track to hold 61 seats in the Senate, giving them a filibuster-proof majority in a vote. Four of the remaining Democrat senators have also supported pro-Keystone efforts in the past and are expected to do so again. If the Republicans can rally 67 votes, they could even override the President’s veto on the matter – but they are hoping to pressure him into accepting the bill before that.
In response to yesterday’s election gains, Jason Kowalski, policy director at 350.org, noted, “Republicans may have won control of the Senate, but they’re still a few votes shy of the 67 they’d need to override the Keystone XL veto President Obama promised them.” But in an interview on MSNBC on Tuesday, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus revealed that passing a Keystone approval bill would be the Republican’s second agenda item after pushing a budget through both chambers. Priebus is so confident of the GOP’s mandate on Keystone he said, “I actually think the President will sign the bill on the Keystone pipeline because I think the pressure – he’s going to be boxed in on that, and I think it’s going to happen.”
However, the passing of the bill would counter the President’s commitments on reducing carbon emissions, placing him a difficult position to say the least. Executive director of 350.org, May Boeve, told Politico, “President Obama can’t approve the most massive oil infrastructure project in modern history, while claiming to be a climate champion. We know the Republicans are going to make Keystone a priority, but this isn’t their call.”
Currently, a White House decision on the pipeline is delayed while the Nebraska Supreme Court rules on a challenge to a state law giving its Republican governor the power to determine the pipeline’s new route through the state. The court decision on the constitutionality of that law is not expected until late 2014 or early 2015.
Photos by Keystone XL