[UPDATED] Keystone XL bill fails in Senate


UPDATED November 19 — The bill that would have approved the Keystone XL pipeline, S2280, didn't reach the 60-vote threshold it needed to pass. The bill failed with 59 yes votes and 41 no votes. 

Original post: The US Senate is about to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that climate change activists have dubbed "game over for the climate."

The Senate has started debating legislation that would green-light the tar sands oil pipeline, and 59 senators have publicly lined up in support of the bill, according to media reports. New York Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand are not among the yes votes; their offices told Capital that they plan to vote against the bill.

The House of Representatives passed the bill yesterday, and there was a party split among the lawmakers who represent Monroe and surrounding counties. Democrats Louise Slaughter and Dan Maffei voted against the bill, while Republicans Chris Collins and Tom Reed voted for it. The pipeline's supporters generally portray it as a job- creation measure and a way to lower energy costs.

"Construction of Keystone XL will help provide energy security for our nation,” Reed said in a statement yesterday. “Keystone is just one aspect of the work needed to upgrade and improve our nation’s energy infrastructure. I care about the bottom line for all Americans and an energy policy which helps them save money and their security, is a fair solution."

Obama is expected to veto the bill. In the past, he's said that he wouldn't approve the pipeline unless reviews showed that it won't add to greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate and environmental activists are fiercely opposed to the project because they say it'll encourage more tar sands development. Tar sands extraction and refining is more energy- and water-intensive than conventional oil drilling and refining. It's also causes more pollution and generates more greenhouse gases.

The pipeline will carry tar sands crude from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska, where it'll tie into the other pipelines that run to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. The project will generate construction jobs, but several analyses say that the estimates used by Keystone supporters are inflated.

And the pipeline's critics contend that it won't provide the promised energy and supply cost benefits, either. They point to investor presentations that have said that the petroleum, once it's refined, will be exported to foreign markets. TransCanada, the company behind Keystone, has pushed back on those claims, but it also says that the refineries decide the ultimate destination for their products.