The Democrat-controlled Senate fled the Beltway on Tuesday night for a five-week summer vacation without taking action on a House measure to expedite the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline.
The pipeline, 36-inches in diameter, would stretch more than 1,600 miles from Alberta, Canada, through several U.S. states and into Nederland, Tex.
The House legislation directs President Obama to make a decision by Nov. 2, and is endorsed by several labor unions, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
The $7 billion project is privately funded, and would inject $20 billion in new spending into the U.S. economy, create nearly 120,000 jobs and generate nearly $600 million in state and local taxes along the pipeline route, according to the Teamsters.
In addition, the pipeline is endorsed by the Laborers’ International Union of North America, the International Union of Operating Engineers, and the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the U.S. and Canada.
“This bipartisan bill has a simple and straightforward objective—set a schedule, coordinate that schedule, and execute a decision process,” said Rep. Lee Terry (R.-Neb.), the bill’s sponsor.
“The more we delay this decision, the more reliant we become on oil from countries in the Middle East. This bill means less reliance on foreign oil, more jobs, and an energy policy that doesn’t rely on less-than-friendly foreign nations. We cannot afford any more delay,” Terry said.
The measure passed the House last week 279 to 147, but supporters say they will have a harder time getting it through the Senate. The U.S. has been reviewing the pipeline proposal since 2008.
The White House called the House measure “unnecessary” and said it “could prevent the thorough consideration of complex issues.”
Environmentalists oppose the pipeline because they say that the Canadian oil is a more corrosive grade than what is drilled in the U.S. and that it would eat away at the pipeline and cause a catastrophic spill.
“Oil is oil,” said Dan Kish, senior vice president of policy for the Institute for Energy Research. “It’s the same oil they have in Venezuela, and none of the environmentalists are opposed to their oil.”
“This ought to be a simple deal,” Kish said. “This is our allies, they are our biggest trading partner, and we’re not worried they will cut us off.”
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