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Congress will likely vote on Keystone XL in the next week

November 14, 2014

Keystone XL is coming into the spotlight again, and will likely receive a vote within the next week on the Senate floor. Recent moves by Senator Landrieu have increased the likelihood that the Senate will vote about whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. The House is expected to pass a bill today that will approve the pipeline. No matter what, I would not be surprised to see Keystone XL approved within the next half-year. To me the bigger question is whether it will be now, or during the first few months of the 2015 legislative session.

On Wednesday it was reported by National Journal that Democrat Senator Landrieu stood on the Senate floor and asked for a vote on Keystone XL approval. Since she is in a very tight election runoff for in a state that supports Keystone XL, she has been forced to go against her party and push for a vote on the bill. As the National Journal notes, this vote would be a win for Landrieu whether it passes or not. It will allow her to show that she has fought to approve Keystone XL, while at the same time it would allow most other Democrats to vote no and keep their voting record clean. Personally I think it will pass, there simply is too much support for KXL for the Senate to deny its approval.

If the Senate does not pass the Keystone XL approval, then it will pass with no problems in the 2015 session when Republicans have the majority. Since the bill will pass no matter what, it would probably make sense for the Democrats to pass it now and amend it to include provisions that the Democrats wish. Senator Landrieu’s bill, S 24554, does have a provision I like. It has a clause that ensures the passage of this bill does not give extra eminent domain usage for the construction of the Pipeline that doesn’t already exist in law. The eminent domain abuse involved with KXL in South Dakota is one of the main reasons I have been opposed to the project. This added clause won’t necessarily stop eminent domain abuse, but it prevents one potential legal reasons for any eminent domain abuses that will occur.

To make this even more interesting, Sen Landrieu’s election runoff opponent, Rep Bill Cassidy, is the sponsor of HR 5682. HR 5682 is the House version of the same bill that Landrieu is likely to pass in the Senate. Cassidy’s bill has almost the same exact language as that sponsored by Landrieu. If the House passes this same bill it could cancel out Landrieu’s attempt to gain votes by supporting KXL. Who would have thought a runoff election would make both houses of Congress focus so hard on KXL approval.

Today President Obama said his position on KXL has not changed. Obama has hinted many times recently that he would veto KXL if a bill approving the project made it to his desk. It might be for nothing if he does veto the bill though. The Senate currently has enough Democrat supporters of KXL to potentially override a veto from Obama. And even if the veto override doesn’t happen, there will almost surely be enough votes to override a veto at the beginning of the 2015 session. Either way the KXL is likely to be approved by Congress, and it doesn’t appear there is much Obama can do to stop it.

As I said above, I oppose KXL mostly for eminent domain abuses involved with the project. But I am in a minority when it comes to the national level. A recent Pew Research Center survey shows that roughly 2/3 of respondents support KXL:

Public Continues to Favor Keystone XL Pipeline; Support Declines among Democrats, Independents

Chart source Pew Research Center. Click to visit their site and view the results.

 

Overall support from Democrats and Independents have definitely dropped. But a majority of the country supports KXL. If Democrats are thinking 2016 (which they have to be), then it might be unwise for them to put up too much of a fight against something the public supports.

It will be interesting to see what happens over the next week. Either KXL will be approved soon or we will wait a few months. Either way it looks like KXL will unlikely be held up by the federal government going into next spring. Whether that is a good or a bad thing remains to be seen.

  1. Merlyn Schutterle
    November 14, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Is it going to pass over reservation land then? That will give the reservation politicians something to cry about and stir up more anger and resentment. When they can’t get heat to their houses, they cry their eyes out about that then too. The only thing that tribal governments have succeeded in is failure.

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