Obama Vetoes Keystone Proposal

Says pipeline impact not properly studied

Feb 24, 2015
Outside Magazine
barack obama energy environment keystone xl pipeline

President Obama has signaled that he will veto any bill compelling construction of the Keystone pipeline if it comes to his desk.    Matt Wansley/Flickr

President Obama on Tuesday vetoed Congress’ approval of the contested Keystone XL pipeline, the 1,179-mile pipeline that would pump oil from Canada to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.

After a six-year debate over the pipeline’s perceived impact to climate change, energy planning, and job creation, the State Department recommended the application for the pipeline’s construction be denied. Obama agreed and used his veto power—the third veto of his presidency.

“This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people,” Obama said in a statement. “I’m disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision, but it does not change my administration’s commitment to American-made energy that creates jobs and reduces our dependence on oil.”

The bill passed 270 to 152 in the House and 62 to 36 in the Senate, short of the two-thirds majorities needed to override the veto, USA Today reported. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell threatens a veto override vote by March 3.

The State Department, working with TransCanada, will continue to review the proposal but has no deadline. Obama’s decision is a declaration that the environmental impacts outweigh any perceived economic benefits.

“The allure of appeasing environmental extremists may be too powerful for the president to ignore,” wrote McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner in a USA Today op-ed. “But the president is sadly mistaken if he thinks vetoing this bill will end this fight. Far from it. We’re just getting started.”

Here is our Keystone cheat sheet, which includes overviews of the key issues lawmakers are considering as they debate the merits and drawbacks of the pipeline proposal.

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