WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate on Wednesday failed to override a presidential veto blocking a bill that approved construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, halting -- at least for now -- Republican efforts to advance the project.
President Barack Obama issued the veto last month, after the Republican-controlled Congress overcame considerable Democratic opposition to pass legislation approving the controversial pipeline on February 11.
Overriding the veto required a two-thirds majority in the Senate and House of Representatives, but the bill failed at the first hurdle Wednesday -- even though some Democrats joined Republican rivals supporting the pipeline.
Only 62 senators voted in favor, with 37 voting against.
But the vote does not automatically signal the death knell for Keystone XL. Obama could ultimately give his stamp of approval to the project.
The president said last month he is not against Keystone in principle, but accused legislators of trying to "circumvent longstanding and proven processes" for gauging whether it is in the national interest.
The 1,179-mile (1,900-kilometer) TransCanada-built pipeline would transport crude from oil sands in energy-rich Alberta province to a network of pipelines that reach across the United States to the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.
Republicans argue the Keystone project would create 42,000 construction jobs, but many critics, mainly Democrats, have warned it has potential oil spill risks and would actually create very few permanent jobs.
Environmentalists say extracting the heavy petroleum from oil sands will exacerbate climate change.
TransCanada has vowed to keep fighting to get Keystone over the line.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015