Energy Business

Rosebud Sioux Tribe Says Keystone XL Pipeline Is 'Act of War'

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A Tuesday vote in the U.S. Senate on the Keystone XL pipeline appears to be headed for passage but is still one vote short of the super-majority of 60 that would make the vote filibuster-proof. The House of Representatives on Friday passed the legislation by a vote of 252 to 161. If the Senate approves the measure, it goes to President Obama for signature, and he will almost surely veto the bill.

Cyril Scott, president of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, has made his position on the matter abundantly clear:

The House has now signed our death warrants and the death warrants of our children and grandchildren. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe will not allow this pipeline through our lands. We are outraged at the lack of intergovernmental cooperation. We are a sovereign nation and we are not being treated as such. We will close our reservation borders to Keystone XL. Authorizing Keystone XL is an act of war against our people.

So has President Obama, who said at a press conference in Burma last Friday that he must “constantly push back against this idea that somehow the Keystone pipeline is either this massive jobs bill for the United States or is somehow lowering gas prices.”

Whether there are enough votes in Congress to overcome a presidential veto is questionable, especially because the scheduled Senate vote has been agreed to as a maneuver to help Louisiana’s Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu keep her seat in a December runoff with Republican challenger, Congressman Bill Cassidy, who sponsored the legislation in the House. If President Obama vetoes the legislation, a two-thirds majority of each house of Congress would need to vote in favor of the measure in order to override the presidential veto.

That almost certainly will not happen in the last two and a half months of the current Congress. Even after the Republican party takes control of Senate in January, getting 67 Senators to vote an override seems next to impossible. Even with Republican control of the House, 291 votes would be needed to override a veto. Republicans are expected to hold 247 House seats when the final returns and runoffs are in, still well short of the total needed to override a veto.

TransCanada Corp. (NYSE: TRP), the company that will build and operate the pipeline, has lifted its initial estimate for building the line from $5.4 billion to $8 billion and has also begun work on a proposal to build a 1-million barrel a day pipeline from Alberta to Canada’s east coast. Two additional pipelines to Canada’s west coast are also under review, and none of the three passes through the United States. Keystone XL may be a white elephant before it even gets approved for construction.

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