Thanks to yesterday’s elections, Keystone supporters now boast a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. 61 Senators from both parties favor the construction of the international pipeline, and Republican leaders intend to make the most of the opportunity. The Huffington Post reports:
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Tuesday in an appearance on MSNBC that passing a Keystone approval bill would be the second item on the Republican agenda, after a budget. “I actually think the president will sign the bill on the Keystone pipeline because I think the pressure — he’s going to be boxed in on that, and I think it’s going to happen,” Priebus said.The controversial 1,660-mile pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to Texas has been under consideration for six years. Because it crosses an international border, the permitting decision lies with the State Department. In April, the State Department again delayed a decision until a Nebraska court can resolve a lawsuit over the proposed route through the state. A decision in that case is expected later this year.
Because the pipeline crosses the U.S.-Canada border, its fate has lain—or, more accurately, languished—in the hands of the State Department. The Obama Administration has continually kicked the can down the road on this issue, perhaps, most recently, hoping to postpone a decision until after these elections. But a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate could now force the President’s hand.And well it should. Now, some six years after the project’s original proposal, Keystone XL’s opponents are running out of arguments. A State Department report found that the project wouldn’t significantly affect greenhouse gas emissions, on the grounds that the oil it would be transporting would find its way to market some other way (and indeed already has). Not only is the pipeline route safer than its alternatives, but also polling also shows that the project enjoys widespread public support.These midterm election results won’t automatically result in a decision. A 61-member majority still falls short of the 67 votes needed to overturn a Presidential veto. But the new Republican majority certainly gives Keystone supporters more leverage, which could lead our President to make a deal.