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US lawmakers celebrate Keystone, bill awaits Obama veto

14 february 2015, 15:56
0

 US Republican lawmakers held a ceremony Friday hailing Congress's passage of the Keystone XL pipeline, but President Barack Obama has vowed to veto the legislation, AFP reports.

House Speaker John Boehner, surrounded by Republicans, formally signed the measure at a ceremony in the US Capitol, where gathering was intended to put pressure on the president to sign the measure approving the controversial Canada-to-US project.

"It's really pretty simple: the Keystone XL pipeline is a good idea for our economy, and it's a good idea for our country," Boehner said.

"To the president, I'd say this: 'Do the right thing, sign this bill and help us create more jobs in America and create a healthier economy,'" Boehner said.

Obama has announced he would veto the bill, which passed Congress Wednesday, because it seeks to short-circuit the established administrative review process. The review has dragged on since builder TransCanada first applied for its permits six years ago.

The multi-billion-dollar pipeline would transport crude from Alberta's oil sands and across several US states, joining an existing pipeline network that would bring the oil to refineries along the Gulf Coast.

Obama has expressed environmental concerns about Keystone and has not yet said whether he would ultimately approve the project.

Should Obama reject the measure it would be his first veto against the newly-empowered Republican Congress.

Lawmakers have yet to send the bill to Obama. A senior Republican aide suggested it would be delivered to the White House after next week's congressional break.

Such a move would prevent Obama from vetoing the legislation while lawmakers were out of Washington.

After the bill's submission, Obama would have 10 days, excluding Sundays, to sign or veto it.

Many Democrats and environmentalists warn of the project's oil spill risks. They also have broadly denounced provisions which exclude TransCanada from certain fees and taxes as a "giveaway" to a foreign company.

US Republicans, backed by Canada's Conservative government, argue that Keystone is a job generator that would boost American energy security and increase oil transport safety.

"We're hoping common sense will prevail here," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said at the ceremony.

Lawmakers were joined by the head of North America's Building Trades Unions, Sean McGarvey, who also urged Obama to "put our men and women back to work."

Republicans point to a State Department assessment that Keystone XL would create 42,000 construction jobs.

Democrats shoot back that just 35 of the jobs would be permanent.


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