WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Tuesday afternoon vetoed legislation that would approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The legislation, first proposed by TransCanada Corp. in 2008, would have authorized the construction of a pipeline running from Hardisty, Alberta to Steele City, Neb. The $5.4 billion project requires federal approval because it crosses an international border. This is only the third time Obama has used his presidential veto power.
The bill “attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest,” according to Obama’s veto message.
Obama maintained in recent months that he would veto the legislation when it finally arrived at his desk, despite its passage through both the House and Senate earlier this month. Though Congress approved the legislation with bipartisan support, each chamber fell short of the two-thirds majority required to override a presidential veto.
“We should not be closing off our borders to affordable energy, and Congress will work to fix this terribly broken process,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., said of the president’s veto.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he would attempt to override the veto by no later than March 3.
“This veto was a short-sighted, politically-driven mistake. It is a failure of leadership because America needs energy and infrastructure,” said Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the Republican chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
If constructed, the pipeline would carry fuel from the Alberta tar-sands through six states, connecting in Steele City to another line that would bring the fuel to the Gulf Coast of Texas. Environmentalists oppose harvesting fuel from tar-sands because of its carbon-intensive make up and high carbon dioxide emissions during extracting and refining.
Regardless of a Congressional override of the veto, construction of the pipeline would still require presidential approval to cross an international border.