President Obama would veto Keystone XL bill

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 1/7/2015

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday that President Obama would veto a bill from the new Congress pertaining to the completion of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

During his daily press briefing in Washington, D.C., Earnest fielded questions about Keystone XL, the proposed fourth phase of a crude-oil pipeline that would link the oil sands in Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Neb., by way of Montana and South Dakota.

Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives has rallied behind the pipeline project, saying the XL phase would create jobs, lower energy costs and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

Existing Keystone phases already span more than 2,900 miles. The XL phase, which would be similar to the first phase built in 2010 but tracking a different route with larger diameter pipe, would add half-a-million barrels of crude oil per day to the network.

Environmentalists and opponents cite land-use issues and carbon emissions among their arguments and disagree with claims about energy costs and job creation.

The U.S. State Department says the pipeline would create thousands of temporary jobs but just 35 permanent ones.

Earnest told reporters that Obama administration staff has been reviewing proposed language for a Keystone bill and has come to a familiar conclusion.

“… (T)he fact is this piece of legislation is not altogether different than legislation that was introduced in the last Congress, and you’ll recall that we put out a statement of administration position indicating that the president would have vetoed had that bill passed the previous Congress,” Earnest said as recorded in a White House transcript. “And I can confirm for you that if this bill passes this Congress, the president wouldn’t sign it either.”

Earnest said the U.S. has a well-established evaluation process that helps determine whether a project is in the best interest of the country. The Obama administration has placed that evaluation on hold, in part because of a lawsuit against the pipeline in Nebraska.

“Now, the thing that is impeding a final conclusion about this pipeline is the fact that the pipeline route has not even been finalized yet, that there continues to be an outstanding question about the route of the pipeline through one part of Nebraska, and that’s related to an ongoing legal matter in Nebraska,” Earnest said. “Once that is resolved, that should speed the completion of the evaluation of that project.”

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