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Republicans: Keystone pipeline down, but not out

November 19, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are promising they will quickly resurrect Keystone XL pipeline legislation killed by Democrats when they take control of the U.S. Senate next year, potentially setting up an early 2015 veto confrontation with President Barack Obama.

Approval for the proposed pipeline, that would run 1,179 miles (1,897 kilometers) from the Canadian tar sands to U.S. Gulf coast refineries, fell one vote short of the 60 votes needed to advance in the Senate Tuesday.

The vote was a blow to Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu who had forced the issue onto the Senate agenda, and who faces difficult odds in a Dec. 6 runoff election against Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy.

Even if Landrieu wins her re-election, Republicans are likely to have enough votes to assure the bill’s passage in January.

“I look forward to the new Republican majority taking up and passing the Keystone jobs bill early in the new year,” incoming Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.

Republicans acknowledge they would need 67 votes to override a veto.

The vote was one of the last acts of this Senate controlled by the Democrats. It is expected to complete its work by mid-December.

Democratic divisions were on vivid display in a bill that pitted environmentalists against energy advocates.

While Obama opposes the measure, likely 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton has repeatedly refused to take a position. Most recently, her spokesman did not respond to two requests over the weekend to do so.

Supporters say it would create jobs and ease American dependence on Middle East oil. A government environmental impact statement also predicts that a pipeline would result in less damage to the climate than moving the same oil by rail.

Critics argue that the drilling itself is environmentally harmful, and said much of the Canadian crude would be exported with little or no impact on America’s drive for energy stability.

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Follow Dina Cappiello on Twitter www.twitter.com/dinacappiello

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