The House Transportation Committee approved a measure that would allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline without action by President Barack Obama, the third panel to push the pipeline bill this year.
The bill now goes to the full House after the committee voted 33-24. The Republican-led initiative is largely symbolic. The Democratic-controlled Senate isn’t considering a similar bill and it would be subject to a veto by Obama.
“The administration has had enough time,” said Representative Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania, the Republican chairman of the House transportation panel. “The studies have been done and this project checks out. It’s time to let this project proceed.”
The House Natural Resources Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee previously approved the Keystone bill. The measure seeks to bypass the permit process that requires the State Department to review and decide on the pipeline because it crosses an international boundary.
Democrats on the transportation panel said the jobs that would be created by the project would only be temporary and building the pipeline posed risks to the environment. Representative Nick Rahall of West Virginia, the top Democrat on the panel who said he supported Keystone, opposed the bill because he said it would give Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. (TRP) the permits it needs for construction, an advantage he said isn’t available to U.S. companies.
TransCanada’s $5.3 billion pipeline, which would carry tar-sands oil from Canada to U.S. refineries near the Gulf of Mexico, has been among the most prominent energy fights for the past two years. Obama’s administration is expected to decide on whether to permit the pipeline to cross the border later this year.
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