Earlier this month, for the first time in eight years, the Republican party came into a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate — and while the Obama administration states it’s prepared to work with, not against, a GOP-led Congress, the president has made it known that he’s not afraid to wield his power to veto.
In a statement Tuesday, the Obama administration said it would veto legislation intended to speed up the president’s approval of the highly-controversial Keystone XL pipeline if such legislation were to pass through the House and Senate, according to a January 6 LA Times article.
And when House and Senate Republicans have called Keystone XL legislation a “top priority,” it’s clear that President Obama will be wielding the presidential veto sooner rather than later.
The Keystone XL pipeline is a proposed 1,200-mile extension to an already-existing pipeline that brings tar sands oil from Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico, bringing up the total of oil pipes within the network up to 3,800 miles, according to the Independent.
“The Keystone XL pipeline has real and broad implications in terms of energy independence, the economy, and geopolitical dynamics,” said Mandy Raps, Marketing Lead with Dragon Products. “The project has been delayed for years, but the last report indicated the Senate had 63 of the 67 votes needed to override an Obama veto.”
The project has drawn widespread criticisms from environmental groups — tar sands oil is known to produce as much as 17% more greenhouse gases than traditional crude oil. Several Native American tribes also oppose the project, stating that pipeline’s construction would be located too close to their homes.
In addition, experts say the pipeline’s expansion only makes economic sense if crude oil is priced at $65 per barrel or higher. With crude oil currently selling at $51 per barrel, the Keystone XL project would be a waste of money.
Meanwhile, supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline say it will create much-needed jobs across the country and help steer the U.S. toward energy independence.
“While it’s true that low oil prices are not welcome news to oil and gas companies or equipment manufacturers, lower prices at the pump are good for the consumer and the economy. The short term gains will more than likely benefit Canada more than the U.S., but the completion of the pipeline would certainly support a needed move toward energy independence,” said Raps.
President Obama’s veto doesn’t necessarily mean he will never approve legislation regarding the Keystone XL pipeline. According to the LA Times, the president is waiting on the results of a State Department evaluation of the Keystone XL project before taking a decisive stance on the issue.
However, President Obama has long been open about his skepticism on the supposed benefits of the pipeline. In December, he made remarks that jobs created by the pipeline’s expansion would be temporary, and that its supporters have inflated the project’s economic benefits.
Nor is it likely that Congress would be able to rally the votes necessary to override Obama’s planned veto. The LA Times reports that Democratic senators like Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) have voiced their support for a presidential veto. Schumer himself stated that the pipeline bill would not have enough votes in Congress to override the veto.
Considering this, it will likely be some time before a fully fledged Keystone XL pipeline bill makes its way to the president’s desk.