As White House confirms plan to veto Keystone XL, five facts about its status

February 23, 2015

Canadian Press

An attempt to force U.S. President Barack Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline is being rebuffed, with the White House confirming that the president will veto a pro-Keystone bill, the first legislation of its kind passed by Congress.

It may be a milestone in a long debate — but it’s not the end of the years-long saga, which involves plans to build a new oil pipeline from Alberta and connect it to an already-functioning portion in the southern U.S. Here are five facts about the status of the Keystone XL project:

—This was the undercard — now the main event: A veto comes as no surprise. The White House repeatedly said it would stop lawmakers if they tried forcing an outcome on Keystone XL.

The White House says it’s the president who decides what pipelines cross the border, not Congress, and past court decisions bear that out. That responsibility was most recently laid out in Executive Order 13337, signed by George W. Bush in 2004.

—So when is the main decision? Soon — maybe: The regulatory process is in its final phase. The State Department has finished collecting input and is now preparing a recommendation to the president. Obama must then decide whether the project is in the U.S. national interest.

When Obama talks about Keystone XL, he plays down its potential for jobs and lower U.S. gas prices. Instead, he says, the decision will be based on climate change. The latest State Department review says it won’t increase emissions, but another U.S. federal agency has questioned that conclusion.

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