The House, on Wednesday, passed a bill ordering the issuance of a permit for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast.
The provision, part of the American Energy and Infrastructure Act, would give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 30 days to issue a permit without additional conditions for the construction, operation and maintenance of the oil pipeline.
President Barack Obama has been at odds with congressional Republicans who have tried repeatedly to force his hand in greenlighting the project.
The proposed 1,179-mile pipeline has been met with staunch opposition from environmental groups who say it runs the risk of polluting the country's heartland and farming regions. Proponents of the project say the country needs the oil the pipeline will transport and its construction will create thousands of jobs.
Keystone and the Nebraska state government are working together to map a new route bypassing the environmentally sensitive Sandhills region, site of a major aquifer.
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The American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry trade group, applauded the House vote Wednesday.
Approving the full Keystone XL pipeline would send a strong signal to the American people and to global markets that the U.S. is serious about providing reliable, secure supplies of energy that could help put downward pressure on fuel prices, said API Executive Vice President Marty Durbin. Supply matters; it is a key factor in setting the price of gasoline. Bringing more stable supplies of Canadian oil to the market via [the pipeline] makes absolute sense and in the long term may help consumers at the pump.
The plan, as proposed by TransCanda, a Canadian oil company, would have the pipeline run through Nebraska on its way to Cushing, Okla., a key pipeline hub. From there the pipeline continues on its way to Texas refineries.
Obama has warned he will veto the Republican bill, which passed the House 293-197, The Hill reported.
This latest vote is the fifth time the House has voted in favor of the pipeline. The Senate will take up the bill in a future conference committee. The Senate has not been the most sympathetic chamber when it comes to the Keystone XL project. In March Senate Democrats block a similar amendment.
The president early in the year scuttled the project when he failed to approve the company's permit application, but on Feb. 27, the White House backed TransCanada's proposal to build the southern half, from Cushing to the Texas coast, as a separate project.
The White House, at the time, welcomed news the company was ready to resubmit its permit. Obama then said he would fast-track the construction of the pipeline's southern portion as an independent endeavor, unrelated to the larger northern portion, which has to cross the U.S.-Canada border.