Keystone Pipeline Debate

March 8, 2012 by staff 

Keystone Pipeline Debate, The U.S. Senate could vote as early as Thursday on competing plans for the future of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline as part of a highway funding bill, Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Wednesday.

Reid, a Democrat, said he reached an agreement with Republican leaders in the Senate that will allow debate on a Republican bill to approve TransCanada’s $7 billion project to bring Canadian oil sands to Texas refineries, along with a Democratic plan to ban exports from the pipeline.

The Keystone amendments are two of 30 measures that could be voted on in coming days as the Senate pushes to renew funding for highways and other infrastructure projects, slated to run out at the end of March.

Both amendments face an uphill battle attracting the 60 votes that Reid said would be required for their passage in the 100-member Senate. But they will provide a chance for fresh debate on the controversial project, which President Barack Obama put on hold pending further environmental review.

Republicans have sought to make the Keystone delay an issue in the November presidential election, and the recent increase in U.S. gasoline prices has bolstered arguments by pipeline supporters that oil coming from Canada would bolster U.S. energy security.

The pipeline would carry crude from Canadian oil sands to Texas refineries, and would also pick up U.S. crude from North Dakota and Montana along the way.

A Republican amendment, championed by Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, would sidestep the need for presidential approval and allow Congress to approve the project. But any bill containing such a measure would still require Obama’s signature.

Last year, U.S. exports of refined products like diesel exceeded imports of such fuels for the first time since 1949, the U.S. government said, crediting strong world demand and increased supplies from Canada and North Dakota.

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