Obama vetoes contentious oil pipeline bill
25 February 2015, 10:33
Washington - President Barack Obama on Tuesday, as promised,
swiftly vetoed a Republican bill approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline,
leaving the long-debated project in limbo for another indefinite period.
The US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, after
receiving Obama's veto message, immediately countered by announcing the
Republican-led chamber would attempt to override it by 3 March.
That is unlikely. Despite their majority, Republicans are
four votes short of being able to overturn Obama's veto.
They have vowed to attach language approving the pipeline to
a spending bill or other legislation later in the year that the president would
find difficult to veto.
The TransCanada Corp pipeline would carry 830 000 barrels a
day of mostly Canadian oil sands crude to Nebraska en route to refineries and
ports along the US Gulf. It has been pending for more than six years.
Obama, who rejected the bill hours after it was sent to the
White House, said the measure unwisely bypassed a State Department process that
will determine whether the project would be beneficial to the United States.
"Through this bill, the United States Congress attempts
to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not
building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national
interest," he wrote in his veto message.
Republicans, who support the project because of its
job-creation potential, made passing a bill a top priority after the November
election, when they gained control of the US Senate and strengthened their
majority in the House of Representatives.
The bill passed by 270-152 in the House earlier this month
and cleared the Senate in January.
Obama has played down Keystone XL's ability to create jobs
and raised questions about its effects on climate change. Environmentalists,
who made up part of the coalition that elected the president in 2008 and 2012,
oppose the project because of carbon emissions involved in getting the oil it
would carry out of Canadian tar sands.
TransCanada Chief Executive Russ Girling said in a statement
the company was "fully committed" to Keystone XL despite Obama's veto
and would work with the State Department to answer any questions it has about
Opponents of the pipeline praised Obama's move.
"This veto, along with the president's increasing
public skepticism about Keystone XL ... makes us more confident than ever that
[the] president will reject the permit itself once and for all," said Gene
Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, another pipeline
Republicans lambast Obama
"The president's veto of the Keystone jobs bill is a
national embarrassment," said Republican House Speaker John Boehner.
"The president is just too close to environmental extremists to stand up
for America's workers. He's too invested in left-fringe politics to do what
presidents are called on to do, and that's put the national interest
Obama will make a final decision on the project once the
State Department finishes its review, expected in the coming weeks.
But the issue is likely to remain central in Washington's
political back-and-forth for some time.
The chairperson of the House Oversight Committee, Jason
Chaffetz, sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday asking for
all reports and documents received by the State Department from other
government agencies about the project, according to an aide.