Landrieu Comes Up Short on Keystone, But Republicans Plan Passage Next Year

Energy and Climate Report provides current, thorough coverage of clean energy, efficiency, and climate change legislation, regulation, policy, legal developments, and trends in the U.S. and...

By Lynn Garner

Nov. 18 — The long-shot gamble by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) to convince her Democratic colleagues to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline came up short by one vote, but Republicans said they intend to pass it as soon as they take over the Senate in January.

The Senate voted 59-41 in favor of the pipeline, but Keystone supporters failed to achieve a 60-vote threshold required for approval.

Landrieu, locked in a tough re-election battle this fall, convinced Democrats to schedule the Senate's first up-or-down vote on a Keystone XL oil pipeline bill (S. 2280) since TransCanada Corp. filed its first presidential permit application in 2008.

Landrieu was hoping to boost her re-election chances in a tight Dec. 6 runoff with Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who trailed Landrieu in the November midterms but is ahead in the runoff polls.

The Senate vote means President Barack Obama won't have to decide whether to issue a veto of the bill. While signaling a likely veto in recent days, the White House never definitely said it would veto the project.

In any case, pipeline supporters are well short of the 67 votes needed to override a presidential veto, but that may change with the new Senate Republican majority in January.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who will be Senate majority leader in 2015, said Keystone will be a top priority for the expanded Republican majority.

McConnell said prior to the vote that the pipeline is “the biggest shovel-ready project in America,” is “ready to go” and would “employ thousands.”

Nebraska Court Near Decision

The Senate vote comes as the Nebraska Supreme Court nears an important decision on whether a Nebraska state law that created a new process in 2012 for selecting the Keystone XL route is unconstitutional.

Attorneys participating in the case told Bloomberg BNA Nov. 18 that the court decision could come as soon as this week or by the Thanksgiving holiday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lynn Garner in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Heather Rothman at