May 5th, 2014
05:36 PM ET
7 years ago

First on CNN: Keystone bill likely to fail in Senate

(CNN) - A congressional effort to bypass the White House and approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline appears likely to fizzle this week, CNN has learned.

The development comes after three Democratic senators, who cast their support previously for the long-delayed, cross-border pipeline, said they would vote against the legislation.

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Such an outcome would be a victory for the Obama administration, which is reviewing environmental concerns about the politically-charged energy project.

Simply moving forward with the vote also would be a political boost for several red-state Democrats facing tough re-election battles who support the pipeline and who want to prove to their constituents that they did everything possible to get it approved.

TransCanada wants to complete a pipeline from northern Alberta to the Gulf Coast that would carry the tar sands oil across six U.S. states.

The $5.3-billion project needs federal approval because the pipeline would cross an international border. For now, the review rests with the State Department, headed by Secretary of State John Kerry.

He will ultimately deliver a recommendation to President Barack Obama, who will make a final decision.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Keystone opponent, surprised many when he said last week he was open to allowing a vote on the legislation in the coming days.

But now his strategy is becoming clearer - allow a vote that would fail in the Senate, but succeed in giving political cover to some of his most endangered Democratic colleagues - those who if they lose in November could mean a Republican takeover of the Senate.

CNN: Key races to watch in 2014

Senators like Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich of Alaska, John Walsh of Montana, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, could tell voters they fought hard for one of the energy industry's top priorities and the accompanying jobs that would go with it.

The Keystone proposal, written by Sen. John Hoeven, R-North Dakota and Landrieu, has 56 co-sponsors - 45 Republicans and 11 Democrats. That is still four short of the 60 votes it would need to pass.

Hoeven said last week he hoped to pick up additional votes from Democrats he described as open to voting for the pipeline.

Those votes would likely have to come from six other Democrats who just over a year ago backed a non-binding measure that expressed support for the project.

Of that group, Senators Bill Nelson of Florida, Chris Coons of Delaware, and Tim Johnson of South Dakota, citing different reasons, now say they will vote against the current legislation, making it unlikely it would reach the 60-vote threshold.

None of the three face the same political pressures as the red-state Democrats running for re-election, making it easier for them to oppose the bill. Johnson is retiring and Nelson and Coons come from less conservative states.

In a statement, Johnson said, "the recent Nebraska Supreme Court decision that invalidates the pipeline's route through Nebraska has created significant uncertainty at the state and federal level."

An aide to Coons said the senator is "frustrated with how long it's taking for a decision to be made, but he doesn't think it's Congress' role to be issuing construction permits."

And an aide to Nelson said while the senator supports the Keystone pipeline, he wants to pass an accompanying law ensuring the oil that goes through it is used at home and not exported.

As to the other three Democratic senators who voted in favor of last year's measure, only Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania said he would support the current bill.

An aide to Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado wouldn't say which way he would vote. An aide to Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, said the senator is still deciding how he will vote.

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Filed under: Keystone XL • Senate
soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "But now his strategy is becoming clearer....[insert many derps]"

    When Reid allows a vote: CNN dons a tinfoil hat, goes into spin mode and calls it all political.

    When GOP/Teatrolls refuse to even allow a vote on something: CNN carefully avoids and refuses to use the word "filibuster" and produces an article that whitewashes their obstructionism.

    It's getting a little too blatant at this point CNN.

    May 5, 2014 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  2. Gurgyl

    Good. Environment is going to be disaster if passed. Not create any employment either.

    May 5, 2014 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  3. The REAL Truth...

    It would be nice if the GOP quit with the fake posturing on the XL and finger pointing at the POTUS.
    FESS UP Republicans... It's not jobs, it's not energy independence, and it's not CHEAPER gas for the US.
    It's more corporate welfare (read: PROFIT$$) for the oil companies.
    The tar sands from Canada will be refined in Houston, sold to the highest bidder (China most likely) and the US will get to deal with the sludge that remains.
    About 100 permanent jobs, up to 9,000 temp jobs during construction. There will be no GASOLINE produced from the tar sands. In fact gas prices may INCREASE as refinery capacity will be used for refining the sludge, not producing more gas.
    And then – on top of all that – there is the permanent damage to the largest water supply in the US.
    Intelligent folks want to know what they can't tell it like it is... ????

    May 5, 2014 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  4. The REAL Truth...

    oops typo...
    And then – on top of all that – there is the POTENTIAL damage to the largest water supply in the US.

    May 5, 2014 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |

    Not many things are FIRST on CNN. Usually CNN is next to last on reporting issues that matter.

    Democrats are trying their hardest to kill as many jobs in this country as possible.

    May 5, 2014 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  6. rs

    I hope this bill fails. The Keystone pipeline does nothing for America, except import Canada's pollution problems with the dirtiest oil in the world. As all of the oil is bound for export it does nothing for America's energy independence, or to the price of gas. It seems the only real "jobs" will be transporting the cash the Koch brothers make to their doorstep as their interests in the pipeline are currently looking to make them another $100 billion.

    May 5, 2014 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  7. Barbara

    Go ahead Senate make it fail but just remember this Democrats we will vote you butts out because we see you don't give a crap about us working class people. If this was past the price of gas would more then likely go down because of speculation.

    May 5, 2014 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  8. ChrisM

    Ask the Farmers of Nebraska if they want the Tar Sands Oil Keystone pipeline over or anywhere nears their Farmland or Aquifers
    No. they dont. Just look at the recent tar sands oil spills in Canada, Arkansas and Michigan. Its been 4 years since the Michigan tar sands oil spill and the Kalamazoo River is still full of the tar sands oil crap.

    May 5, 2014 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  9. Silence DoGood

    @CALIFORNIA "Democrats are trying their hardest to kill as many jobs in this country as possible."
    I might be sorry I asked, but where do you find evidence that there is a (say it) conspiracy to try to kill as many jobs as possible?

    May 5, 2014 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  10. J Anthony

    @California: the handful of jobs it would create are not worth it. This will not benefit society. The endless waste/consumption economic model on which the fossil fuels industry (and the whole of society for that matter) thrives is self-destructive. "infiinite growth" is a delusion.

    May 5, 2014 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  11. jojo

    I can't wait until the Repubs take over the senate.

    May 5, 2014 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  12. 1776usa2016

    You now got a HUGE contingent of farmers, land owners and Native Americans in the Midwest organized and rallying against this highly dangerous Keystone XL pipeline. A pipeline that brings ZERO oil to US, only a pitiful handful of temporary jobs, and involves an insane degree of risk to lands and water sources.


    May 5, 2014 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  13. Steve

    Please Senator Reid, we don't need no sticking jobs in America. And union jobs like the ones generated building, maintaining and operating this pipeline – we definitely do not need those jobs.

    Now to all the haters on CNN, I would approve the pipeline with two caveats. One – a $5 billion bond be placed with the U.S. Treasury to cover any accidents that we are stuck cleaning up. Two – a tax of $1 dollar for every 100 gallons of product shipped in the pipeline to be used to fund maintenance that will be overseen by the U.S. government.

    May 5, 2014 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  14. Joe User

    The Administration has been stalling this for almost 4 years citing the original impact study submitted in 2010 was insufficient. This is 100% political. The oil is going through no matter what and fact is a pipeline is much safer and will create less environmental impact than going overland by train or truck.

    May 5, 2014 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  15. Sparky

    as well it should

    May 5, 2014 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  16. Cynthia

    Time to put environment and our children ahead of unfettered consumption and obscene profits. What will it take to get people to consider the future vs immediate selfish gratification?

    May 5, 2014 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  17. frank

    The Real Truth.

    If you are a Petroleum Engineer by Degree then your statements might make sense. If no,t then shows the facts to back up your point.

    May 5, 2014 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  18. Yeahhhhhhhhhhh

    Down with Keystone XL and it's environmental nightmare.

    May 5, 2014 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  19. scott

    Go ahead Harry Reid, play your little political games. Don't think we cant see right through the BS. Your time is coming and so are your fellow party members up for re-election. If this doesn't pass, then you can bet your dirty arse, your buddies up for reelection will suffer the consequences at the polls!

    May 5, 2014 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  20. TM

    If you like your dirty oil you can keep it.

    May 5, 2014 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  21. A Nebraskan

    Shouldn't conservatives want local and state governments to make this decision rather than the federal government? Nebraska has not approved the pipeline. The case is still working through the courts but there is a good chance it will not get approved. Why should private, foreign, companies be allowed to use eminent domain to take land from farmers? If you supported Clive Bundy but don't support the Nebraskan farmers and ranchers who actually own the land their cattle graze on you must either: A) blindly disagree with anything Obama says or B) stand to make money off the deal. The libertarian argument is absolutely on the side of the private land owners who would be affected by the pipeline. I see no reason why this decision lays with the federal government and it s only being used by both sides to score political points without any knowledge of the real issue. What if the Senate approves the pipeline? Will federal security agencies escort the backhoes and dump trucks through Nebraska despite the State’s objections? Will militias show up to protect actual property rights instead of a guy who is 20 years late on his rent? Check out “The Cowboy and Indian Alliance” for information about the true opposition to the Keystone Pipeline.

    May 5, 2014 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  22. LHH

    Could someone who is against the Keystone Pipeline tell us why they think that railroad, barge, or trucks are what they prefer and why?

    May 5, 2014 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  23. vtroots

    Just once I'd like to see an energy conservation bill voted on as an energy conservation bill (the one in play here has bipartisan support;
    Or Keystone XLII voted on it's merits and not it's impact on the next election or poloitical fundraising.
    Democracy in Washington sure is different

    May 5, 2014 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  24. bill

    a victory???? well, i guess if doing all y ou can to prevent jobs is a victory then........ Clinton said it best "obama does not have any experience running anything". a victory?? like obamacare and all foreign policy. ???? this is too much-for those against the pipeline-the oil is being delivered now by truck and rail-watch the wrecks and problems-IT IS ABOUT HOW TO DELIVER THE OIL. Obama and Hillary both wrote and studied RULES OF REVELUTION: THE ALINSKY MODEL--8 factors on how to CHANGE a government.

    May 5, 2014 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  25. cal usa

    The oil supply is at record heights, without the pipeline. What will it accomplish, beyond allowing the processing of dirtier tar sands oil in Texas? The answer is greater profits for the oil companies, not any cost improvements for the customer. By the way,they will also use eminent domain to take away land from ranchers and farmers in Nebraska who are opposed to the pipeline. Now, you would think conservatives would rise up to defend these individual rights from a government takeover, but apparently not. They're o.k. with the government kicking these people aside, on behalf of a foreign oil company.

    May 5, 2014 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
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