WASHINGTON — A move to force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline failed, again, to advance Tuesday.
An amendment offered by Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., to a pending highway bill included approval of the 1,700-mile pipeline that would run from the oil sands of Canada to Gulf Coast refineries. The amendment also would have expanded oil and gas exploration on federal lands and extended certain tax provisions.
The vote was 41 for the amendment and 57 opposed, well short of the 60 votes needed to move forward. Sens. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, opposed the amendment. Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Mike Johanns, R-Neb., supported it.
The vote did not reflect the level of support for Keystone XL, but rather was influenced by the other provisions included in the amendment.
A vote last week to force pipeline approval, without the tax provisions, fell short of the 60 votes need to advance but still garnered significant
support for the project, with 56 votes in favor and 42 against.
Republicans have argued that TransCanada’s pipeline has received more than three years of review and say it’s time for the dirt to start flying. They say approving it would help lower gas prices and create jobs.
Opponents say the project’s benefits have been overstated and its risks ignored. They also point out that a new route for the pipeline through Nebraska has yet to be finalized.
Obama rejected TransCanada’s application for a pipeline permit earlier this year, saying there was not enough time to complete the necessary reviews before a Feb. 21 deadline that Republicans had folded into legislation extending the federal payroll tax cut.
The vote tally was incorrect in an earlier version of this report.