Nov 19 2014

Yellowhammer: Shelby: Democrats blocked 'tens of thousands of new jobs' by opposing Keystone XL pipeline

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats on Tuesday evening blocked the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project supported by conservatives and business groups but staunchly opposed by environmental activists.

Fourteen Democrats crossed party lines to join all 45 Republicans in voting in favor of the bill, leaving it just one vote shy of the 60-vote threshold needed to assure passage.

If approved, the pipeline would transport oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf coast, which advocates say would create tens of thousands of jobs. But for the past six years, approval of the $8 billion project has been at the mercy of the Obama administration because it crosses international borders.

“For far too long, Senate Democrats have blocked legislation to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline – a commonsense measure that would decrease energy bills for American families and boost our nation’s energy independence,” Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby told Yellowhammer after the vote. “This unnecessary inaction has delayed the creation of tens of thousands of new jobs across the nation.”

“Delayed” may be the operative word in all of this, because the same bill that Democrats blocked on Tuesday will very likely pass with ease under Republican control in January. The only question is whether President Obama will veto the bill, which he has threatened to do.

“Unfortunately, Senate Democrats and President Obama chose to obstruct this important job-creating project once again,” Shelby continued. “Today’s vote underscores the importance of a Senate Republican Majority that will listen to the American people.”

The Senate’s inaction on Keystone XL stands in stark contrast to the House, which on Friday passed a bill approving the pipeline with bi-partisan support that included every member of Alabama’s congressional delegation, including Democrat Terri Sewell, who was one of 31 Democrats who broke ranks to vote in favor of the bill.

Republicans don’t take control of the senate until January, but Keystone XL will likely be near the top of their priority list once the new sessions begins.