Supporters say the pipeline would create thousands of jobs, help lower fuel prices and bolster North American energy resources.
Opponents call the project a “carbon bomb” that would carry “dirty oil” that could trigger global warming. They also worry about a spill. Converting tar sands into oil can uses as much as 15 percent more energy than conventional oil production.
Obama has twice thwarted the pipeline project amid concerns about a proposed route through environmentally sensitive land in Nebraska, even as the White House approved a southern portion of the project from Oklahoma to Texas. The bill approved by the House would apply to an 875-mile portion of the pipeline from Canada to Nebraska.
The State Department, which has completed more than 15,000 pages of environmental review on the proposed pipeline over the years, said in a draft report this spring that the project was unlikely to cause significant environmental impact to most resources along the planned route. The report also said other options to move the oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries, such as trucks or rail cars, would be far worse for climate change.
The State Department expects to issue a final report this summer. The department has authority over the pipeline because it crosses a U.S. border.
This latest attempt to speed the pipeline marks at least the fourth time the House has tried to do so.
Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., defended the House actions, even though the Keystone bill is unlikely to be taken up by the Democratic-controlled Senate.
“There may be a few of my colleagues who are tired of Keystone bills, but the American people are also tired — tired of $3.70 a gallon gasoline, tired of unemployment above 7 percent, and tired of four years of delays that continue to block this critical jobs and energy project,” Upton said.
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