Senate to Take Up Keystone XL Today, Obama Urges Dems to Vote 'No'

Christine Irvine, Tar Sands Action/CC BY 2.0

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently struck a deal with Republicans to smooth the passage of a bipartisan transportation bill. As part of the deal, he'll allow an amendment that green lights the Keystone XL to come to a vote in the Senate, and most likely, that vote will take place today. The vote would override Obama's decision to deny TransCanada a permit, and approve the 1,700 mile pipeline that would ship tar sands crude to the Gulf Coast in Texas.

Here's the Hill:

The deal allows votes on 30 amendments, including a GOP leadership-backed measure to approve construction of the Keystone pipeline, which would carry oil sands crude from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

Senators will vote on a separate amendment by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to block exports of oil brought into the country through the Keystone pipeline.

Each of the amendments needs 60 votes to pass thanks to filibuster-y Senate rules, but even so, the vote will be close. At least, close enough that Obama is personally lobbying fellow Democrats to vote against the amendment. The president is calling up fence-sitting Democrats and urging a 'no' vote, a move that should hearten some greens put off by Obama's recent embrace of TransCanada's plan to build the first leg of the pipeline without the State Dept. permit.

350.org, the green group that has been instrumental in the activist movement opposing the pipeline, has posted a letter urging its supporters to act. "This is the first time that the pipeline has had an up or down vote in the Senate. If we can block Keystone on this vote, we will be in a much stronger position to keep it bottled up in the future," it reads.

Republicans, meanwhile, have unified around the issue, and are calling for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline in both the Senate and House.

Tags: Congress | Tar Sands | Tar Sands Action | United States

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