Obama vetoes bill approving Keystone XL crude oil pipeline

US President Barack Obama vetoed S. 1, authorizing construction of the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline, saying that Congress had attempted to circumvent long-standing processes for determining whether building and operating a crossborder pipeline was in the national interest.

US President Barack Obama vetoed S. 1, authorizing construction of the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline, saying that Congress had attempted to circumvent long-standing processes for determining whether building and operating a crossborder pipeline was in the national interest.

“The presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously,” Obama said in his Feb. 24 veto message. “But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people. And because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest—including our security, safety, and environment—it has earned my veto.”

The president’s action, while expected, nevertheless drew quick responses from the proposed pipeline’s supporters.

Russ Girling, president and chief executive of TransCanada Corp., the project’s sponsor, said the Calgary company remains fully committed to the project and will continue to work with the US Department of State to address concerns, including those raised recently by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

American Petroleum Institute Pres. Jack N. Gerard was critical. “Instead of standing with 72% of Americans, including a majority of Democrats, who support the pipeline, this decision continues us down the path of indecision and delay,” he said on Feb. 24. “Voters spoke loud and clear last fall, saying they wanted Washington to work together. Unfortunately, the veto today demonstrates some are not listening.”

Congressional energy leaders also disliked Obama’s action. “Keystone XL is an economic win-win that would create tens of thousands of shovel-ready jobs and strengthen our energy partnership with our North American neighbor, helping insulate us against future turmoil in the Middle East and elsewhere that could cause price hikes,” House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (D-Mich.) said. “We should not be closing off our borders to affordable energy, and Congress will work to fix this terribly broken process.”

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-Alas.), meanwhile, said, “This veto was a short-sighted, politically driven mistake. It is a failure of leadership because America needs energy and infrastructure.”

Canadian Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford said the matter was not a debate between the US and Canada, but one between Obama and the American people who support Keystone XL. “It is not a question of if this project will be approved; it is a matter of when,” he said. “We will continue to strongly advocate for this job-creating project.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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