Senate blocks efforts to ban exports from Keystone XL pipeline, use American-made steel

WASHINGTON – The Republican-controlled Senate on Tuesday rejected Democrats’ bids to ban exports from the Keystone XL oil pipeline and to require building the project with American-made steel.

In largely party-line votes, the Senate sidetracked the first two additions to a bill seeking to approve construction of the 1,179 pipeline. Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota argued that their additions would ensure that the pipeline, which will carry an estimated 800,000 barrels of oil from the Canadian tar sands to Gulf Coast refineries, will benefit Americans with fuel and jobs.

“Proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline have made promises that it would increase our energy security, but when they are given the chance to support keeping that oil in the United States, they actively oppose my amendment to do so,” Markey said.

But Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said such restrictions on a privately-funded energy project amounted to a “slippery slope.”

The Senate overwhelmingly endorsed a bipartisan measure to boost energy efficiency.

The Keystone XL oil pipeline is the top priority on the Republican agenda this Congress. Democrats hope to use the legislation to score political points on key issues associated with the project, including its contribution to global warming. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island outlined Tuesday an eight-word measure that says: “Climate change is real and not a hoax.”

But none of the measures are likely to sway more Democrats to vote for the bill. At a press conference Tuesday, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he also does not expect the amendments to inspire President Barack Obama to withdraw his veto threat and sign the pipeline bill into law.

As the Senate was debating, the pipeline’s developer, TransCanada Corp. moved Tuesday to seize access to the Nebraska land it needs to finish the $8 billion project — the first steps it’s taken since the state’s high court removed a major legal barrier.

Murkowski said that as of last week, 50 amendments had been filed.


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