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Keystone XL Pipeline Proponents Vow To Try Again Next Year


The Keystone XL oil pipeline is still on hold. A bill in the U.S. Senate to bypass a State Department review and approve the controversial project failed to gather enough support last night. Pipeline backers fell just one vote short of the 60 needed. As NPR's Jeff Brady reports, supporters vowed to come back and hold another vote.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Republicans will become the majority party in the Senate next year. Jack Gerard, at the American Petroleum Institute, says then, a bill approving the Keystone XL will have a better chance of passing.

JACK GERARD: We fully expect that Congress will reconsider this early in the next Congress. And we expect it's going to reach the president's desk. The issue is not going away. And we're not going to give up until the pipeline's built.

BRADY: The Keystone XL would move up to 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Western Canada south to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. The government estimates it would create 42,000 jobs during construction. Once built, it would employ about 50 people. TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline, assumed the project would be moving oil by now. But executives didn't anticipate an aggressive opposition campaign from environmental groups. They call the oil from Alberta's tar sands dirty because producing it creates more pollution than traditional drilling methods. The environmentalists are now focused back on the White House. Jane Kleeb, with the group Bold Nebraska, says she wants the administration to reject the pipeline soon.

JANE KLEEB: The president must reject before the GOP-led Congress comes to town. And that's what you'll see not only Bold Nebraska, but all the environmental groups, really pushing the president to do.

BRADY: But President Obama's administration has said it'll wait until Nebraska's Supreme Court decides a case about the location of the pipeline before making a final decision. That ruling could come any day or months from now, which means the future of this long-debated pipeline is still unclear. Jeff Brady, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: November 19, 2014 at 12:00 AM EST
In the original audio of this report it was said that a White House review of the pipeline is underway. In fact, it is a review by the State Department.
Jeff Brady is a National Desk Correspondent based in Philadelphia, where he covers energy issues and climate change. Brady helped establish NPR's environment and energy collaborative which brings together NPR and Member station reporters from across the country to cover the big stories involving the natural world.