The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that would authorize construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline from Canada.
In a vote fraught with politics and overshadowed by the Louisiana Senate runoff, the Republican-led House approved the pipeline by a wide margin, with 31 Democrats joining 221 GOP members to pass the bill. One Republican voted present, while 161 Democrats voted against the measure.
The lame duck session’s vote sets up a showdown in the still Democratically controlled Senate, where LA Democrat Mary Landrieu has vowed to vote in favor of the measure despite wide opposition from fellow Democrats. Landrieu is fighting for her political life after failing to win a clear majority in last week’s midterm elections, and will face Republican congresswoman Bill Cassidy in a runoff election next month.
The Keystone project has been mired in politics and regulatory uncertainty for years. The Obama administration, while widely embracing domestic oil and gas drilling, has been largely noncommittal on authorizing its construction. Conservationists have vigorously opposed the pipeline’s construction based on environmental concerns.