President Barack Obama is threatening to veto a Senate bill on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday. Earnest said the Senate bill introduced Tuesday -- the first day of the new Congress -- is too similar to last year’s version of the legislation, which Obama indicated he would have vetoed had it passed.
"The fact is this piece of legislation is not altogether different than legislation that was introduced in the last Congress," Earnest told reporters, according to the Huffington Post. "I can confirm for you that if this bill passes this Congress, the president wouldn’t sign it either.”
Obama has said that the 2014 version of the Senate bill on the Keystone XL pipeline, which would pump oil from Canada to refineries in Texas and Oklahoma, would have a minor impact on gas prices and a major effect on carbon pollution. The president also said the State Department, not his office or Congress, should have final say over approval, since the pipeline would partly be in another country, Earnest told the press in his Monday briefing.
"There is already a well-established process in place to consider whether or not infrastructure projects like this are in the best interest of the country," Earnest elaborated on Tuesday.
The administration is also waiting on a court ruling in Nebraska, a state through which the proposed pipeline would run, to determine whether the state can be part of the Keystone XL route. Without a ruling, there is “actually not a finalized plan on the table yet for final signoff,” Earnest said Monday.
The Keystone bill was introduced by U.S. Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. The senators said 63 of their colleagues have signaled support for the bill, enough for it to pass the Senate. Six Democrats are among the supporters, according to the Huffington Post.
“We have everything to gain by building this pipeline, especially since it would help create thousands of jobs right here at home and limit our dependence on foreign oil. Every state, including West Virginia, would benefit economically from this activity,” Manchin said in a statement. “It is my sincere hope that we can once and for all move forward with this important project.”
Hoeven said the pipeline would help the U.S. become energy-independent. “For us to continue to produce more energy and compete in the global market, we need more pipelines to move crude at the lowest cost and in the safest and most environmentally friendly way. That means that pipelines like the Keystone XL are in the vital national interest of our country,” he said. “The project will create thousands of jobs, boost our economy, reduce our reliance on Middle Eastern oil and make our country more secure.”