Senate Republicans have made it clear that their first order of business as the majority party in the 114th Congress will be to ram through a bill approving the controversial Keystone XL pipeline; a move that would please the American Petroleum Institute and Canadian government, but would infuriate environmentalists as well as farmers and ranchers along the proposed route in Nebraska. President Obama’s veto pen is the only thing stopping the Republicans (and some Democrats) on Capitol Hill – and according to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, he intends to use it.

Image via Flickr
Image via Flickr

“If this bill passes this Congress, the president wouldn’t sign it,” said Earnest at Tuesday’s press briefing. Earnest mentioned that there is an ongoing administrative review process and litigation in Nebraska over the pipeline’s route, so congressional interference is unwelcome at this time.

He also said that the president remains skeptical of the project. At his end-of-the-year press conference, Obama delivered his most pointed remarks yet about where he stands on KXL, and it appears he is leaning towards rejection: “Sometimes the way this gets sold is, let’s get this oil and it’s going to come here and the implication is that’s gonna lower oil prices here in the US. It’s not. There’s a global oil market. It’s very good for Canadian oil companies and it’s good for the Canadian oil industry, but it’s not going to be a huge benefit to US consumers. It’s not even going to be a nominal benefit to US consumers.”

Related: Obama appears on Colbert Report, slams Keystone XL

And it won’t be the massive job generator that KXL proponents make it out to be. In fact, only around 4,000 temporary construction jobs would be created and 35 permanent jobs. In comparison, construction of California high-speed rail between San Francisco and Los Angeles will generate 20,000 jobs every year for five years and create up to 67,000 jobs annually as the railway expands. California HSR will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions instead of contributing to climate change as tar sands oil does. But unlike KXL, Republicans refuse to support clean energy and sustainable transportation projects like high-speed rail, despite the economic and environmental benefits.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) commended the president for “standing up to Republicans trying to ram through Congress a bill to let a Canadian oil company ship some of the dirtiest oil on the planet across the United States on its way to overseas markets.” But Senate Republicans might just stand in their own way when it comes to KXL: in their rush to pass a bill, a hearing was scheduled for Wednesday but had to be canceled due to a procedural violation.

A petition for rejecting the pipeline has been created on—you can sign it and add your voice to the fight here:


Via Washington Post

Lead image via Flickr