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Keystone XL Bill Heads to Obama's Desk Today, Pipeline Opponents Urge a Veto

Energy

Congress plans to send the Keystone XL pipeline bill to President Obama's desk today. The president is "poised to reject" the GOP-backed legislation "with a swift veto," according to The Hill.

“I would anticipate, as we’ve been saying for years, that the president will veto that legislation, and he will, so I would not anticipate a lot of drama or fanfare around it,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told The Hill.

Republicans say a veto will not be the end. "The allure of appeasing environmental extremists may be too powerful for the president to ignore," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in an op-ed published this morning in USA Today. "But the president is sadly mistaken if he thinks vetoing this bill will end this fight. Far from it."

Other Republicans and some Democratic supporters of the pipeline echo the sentiments of Sen. McConnell and Rep. Boehner. “We’ll soon learn where American workers and energy independence fall on President Obama’s priority list,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI).

The Obama administration argues the bill "circumvents the ongoing process at the State Department," which the president has said he "wants to be allowed to play out," according to The Hill.  The pipeline has been under federal review for six years, going through roughly five environmental impact statements.

The GOP is already making plans to override the veto. "Right now, 63 senators back the pipeline, but 67 would be needed to override Obama," said The Hill. "In the House the path to a veto-proof majority—or two-thirds—is harder." If they don't have the votes to override it, Republicans want to "try to attach approval for the project to a broader energy package or an appropriations bill," which is harder for the president to veto, The Hill reported.

With Republicans in Congress adamant about passing this bill, a diverse coalition of pipeline opponents that includes artists, elected officials, landowners, labor unions, progressive organizations, Tribal Nations and climate activists sent a Unity Letter urging President Obama to reject the pipeline. The letter was signed by many well known people, including Willie Nelson, Mark Ruffalo, Neil Young, Julianne Moore, Robert Redford, Alec Baldwin, Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, Michael Brune, Sen. Whitehouse and former U.S. Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich. Watch Reich's latest video on the Keystone XL pipeline here:

The letter lays out three key points as to why the president must veto the bill:

  • First, most of those who care about this project oppose it, and with an intensity matched by few issues in recent time.
  • Second, it’s now clearer than ever that the tar sands pose an incredible risk to the health and safety of our families and a livable planet.
  • Third, the arguments for this pipeline—never strong—have disappeared on closer examination.

The coalition also cited a major study in Nature last month, which confirmed that "a serious effort to control global warming must keep the ‘dirtiest oil in the world’ safely underground." The pipeline opponents argue therefore that "Keystone XL must be evaluated not just as a pipeline but as part of the tar sands industry's plans for rapid and reckless expansion."

Click here to tell President Obama to veto the Keystone XL pipeline bill.

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