Copyright Alex Wong, Getty Images
The White House re-iterated Friday that President Barack Obama would veto the Keystone measure if it reaches his desk.

Keystone Pipeline Gains US House Approval as Court Clears Roadblock

Jan. 9, 2015
The bill now heads to the Senate, where debate on Keystone begins next week.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a Republican measure Friday authorizing the Keystone XL oil pipeline, hours after a state court removed a legal roadblock to the controversial project's construction.

Lawmakers voted 266 to 153 to pass the bill that circumvents the White House, setting up the first major showdown between newly empowered Republicans who now control Congress and President Barack Obama, who has vowed to veto the measure.

Some 28 Democrats defied the president and voted with Republicans in support of the Canada-to-U.S. pipeline.

The bill now heads to the Senate, where debate on Keystone begins next week.

The U.S. State Department had suspended its review pending the court's ruling. Girling said he expects that process to be completed "in a couple of months." 

But Senate Democrat Maria Cantwell demanded comprehensive "due process" be given for the project and urged lawmakers not to intervene to score political points.

Writing on Twitter, she said it was "unusual that the U.S. Senate has been asked to vote on (a) bill siting a pipeline thru (the) US simply because (a) Canadian company wants us to do so."

Republicans argue the 1,179-mile (1,900-kilometer) project would boost national energy security and generate more than 40,000 construction jobs.

Democrats point to a State Department assessment that just 35 permanent jobs would be created.

Keystone would funnel crude from Alberta's oil sands, which environmentalists and other critics deride as "tar sands" that take more energy and water to process.

House Democrat Frank Pallone on Friday slammed the Keystone project as "enabling production of the dirtiest oil on the planet."

Republicans counter that moving oil by pipeline releases far fewer emissions than transporting it by rail or road.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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