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By Ari Natter and Laura Litvan
Jan. 12 — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) plans to offer an amendment to lift the 40-year-old ban on the export of crude oil to Keystone XL pipeline legislation being considered on the Senate floor, according to a spokeswoman for the senator.
While it remains unknown if the measure will get a vote, the amendment has the potential to put lawmakers on the record on the issue for the first time.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who previously has pledged to have an open amendment process on the Keystone bill (S. 1), didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
While some Senate Republicans such as Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, have pushed to ease export restrictions that were put in place in the wake of the Arab oil embargo, many remain divided on the issue.
While oil producers support the idea, lawmakers remain fearful a change in the 1975 law barring exports could be linked to higher gasoline prices, analysts have said.
The amendment is one of several potential measures lawmakers are seeking to tie to legislation introduced by Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) to approve TransCanada Corp.'s proposed pipeline to carry crude from oil sands in Alberta to refiners in the Gulf Coast.
The $8 billion project, first proposed in 2008, is pending review by the State Department because it would cross an international boundary.
The Senate voted 63-32 on Jan. 12 in a procedural vote to advance the bill. Identical House legislation (H.R. 3) was approved by a 266-153 vote.
The White House has threatened to veto the legislation because it is conducting an ongoing review of the project, which environmental opponents have linked to climate change.
With assistance from Brian Wingfield in Washington
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