The Senate takes up the Keystone XL oil pipeline in a vote tomorrow after the Republican-controlled House approved the project on Friday for the ninth time. Last week’s vote was 252-161, with not a single GOP lawmaker voting against it and with the support of 31 Democrats. Supporters in the Democratic-run Senate predict this time they’ll get the 60 votes needed to pass it. Should the Senate send the bill to Obama for his signature, he would face a decision that pits his environmental concerns about the pipeline against any obligation he might feel to help his fellow Democrat Mary Landrieu, who’s in a in a Dec. 6 runoff against the bill’s sponsor, republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La. to keep her Senate seat.
The project would pipe oil extracted from tar sand through six states - 1,700 miles - to refineries in Texas. Environmental groups argue that the pipeline, even with several thousand data points and advanced mechanisms for halting the flow of oil, could have serious negative impacts on the sensitive areas surrounding the route. Pipeline proponents argue that extraction will occur with or without the pipeline due to high demand for oil and emphasize the importance of job creation. Energy companies are already transporting crude oil by rail. And a State Department report earlier this year found that the potential impact to carbon emissions is not significant compared to the emissions already coming from extraction and rail transport.
What would the Keystone XL pipeline do to nearby communities? Is this the most economically viable and efficient plan? Which energy sources should the U.S. be investing in?
Bob Deans, director of content for the NRDC where much of his work has focused on the Keystone Pipeline project
Chris Faulkner, CEO and Founder of Breitling Energy Corporation, an oil and natural gas company in Dallas Texas