Keystone XL Update (11/17/14)

A lot is going to happen with Keystone XL over the next few months.

Until now, conversation and legislation about the proposal pipeline has been in limbo, because a Nebraska court invalidated the governor’s decision to allow the Keystone XL pipeline to pass through the Midwestern state, casting new uncertainty over the controversial project to link Alberta’s oil sands with refineries in Texas,” according to Reuters.

However, moves have been made. On Friday, the House voted 252-161 in favor of pipeline development (including a mix of Democrats and Republicans in favor). This upcoming Tuesday (tomorrow), the Senate will vote.

If you need a refresher on the project (courtesy the New York Times):

The $5.3-billion Keystone XL would carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily from Alberta to Steele City, Neb., where it would connect with a southern leg, already completed, to Gulf Coast refineries. Obama said he would approve the project only if it did not significantly worsen carbon dioxide pollution that drives global warming. A State Department environmental review concluded that the project would probably have little impact on carbon emissions, but some peer-reviewed research has countered that the State Department estimates are too low.

The pipeline has been environmentally criticized for its route over the largest aquifer in the United States, as well as the development/use, which will contribute to climate change. There are other negative factors as well.

There is a lot at play here. The White House has hinted that Obama will reject the House bill. Obama hasn’t necessarily made a succinct statement on the pipeline in recent months, but he knows environmentalists will be livid, and he doesn’t want to upset the people who elected him and will be instrumental in the 2016 election. In public statements, Obama and his aides have said “they will wait for the State Department review, which has been suspended until Nebraska’s Supreme Court rules on whether the pipeline’s route through that state was properly approved” (Washington Post). The President has also been making climate deals lately, strengthening his supposed-stance on climate change and energy use issues.

Meanwhile, according to the Washington Post, Keystone XL has been dubbed one of Republicans’ top legislative priorities, the with support from businesses and the oil industry.

Stay tuned for a blog post after the Senate’s vote. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I do know one thing: this isn’t going to be pretty.

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