The House on Friday approved legislation to permit construction of the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline.
The entire Arkansas delegation voted for the bill, which passed 266-153. The Senate will begin debate Monday on its version of the bill. While it is expected to pass, neither chamber appears to have the two-thirds majority required to overcome a likely presidential veto.
Arkansas lawmakers have uniformly backed the pipeline, pointing to the economic benefit it would have in Little Rock, where Welspun Tubular is storing 350 miles of steel pipeline for the project. Welspun is one of the manufacturers tapped by TransCanada to build the 36-inch-diameter steel pipe needed to complete the 1,100 miles of pipeline.
The pipeline, which would carry up to 830,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day from Canada to refineries in the Gulf Coast of Texas, was first proposed in 2008 but has yet to clear permitting reviews by the U.S. Department of State. One holdup, however, was settled Friday when the Nebraska Supreme Court dismissed – for lack of standing — a lawsuit challenging a state law that gave pipeline owner TransCanada authority to force eastern Nebraska landowners to sell their property for the project’s construction.
Reps. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, and French Hill, R-Little Rock, were among the 29 co-sponsors of the bill introduced this session by Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D. They voted in favor of the bill as did Reps. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, and Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro. Sens. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., are co-sponsors of the Senate bill.
“It is time to build this pipeline, put our nation on the path to energy independence, and create thousands of good-paying jobs in the process. In Arkansas, our very own Welspun Tubular has already produced 350 miles of pipe for the project, pipe that is stacked up like cord-wood, collecting rust while the president drags his feet and refuses to put Americans to work,” Westerman said.
“It has been over six years since the application to build the pipeline was first submitted, and today’s bipartisan vote marks the tenth time the House has voted to approve the completion of the pipeline. It is time for the president to approve this project to provide jobs and energy for America,” Hill said.
Hill also noted that the Nebraska Supreme Court had cleared a pathway for swift approval “leaving the president with no more excuses” to deny its completion. Obama has previously approved the construction of the southern portion of the pipeline.
The Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters and other environmental advocates issued a joint press statement Friday denouncing the House vote as a meaningless waste of time.
“Given that it will never become law, this legislation only serves to remind us of just how out of whack congressional Republicans’ priorities are with what the American people actually want,” the coalition wrote.
The environmental groups also urged President Obama to reject the pipeline construction now that the Nebraska legal issue has been settled.
“President Obama has everything he needs to put this debate to rest and move forward with a rejection,” they said.
Zhejiang Yaang Pipe Industry Co., Limited