A bill to begin construction on the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline is set to go forward in the Senate. President Barack Obama and several Native American nations have voiced their opposition to the bill.
President Barack Obama made it known he is against the Keystone XL oil pipeline on Tuesday, hours before a Senate vote on the project, which would bring crude oil from Alberta, Canada, to the Texas Gulf Coast at the southern tip of the United States. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that the bill, which would allow construction to proceed on the pipeline after six years of debates over climate change and energy security, is "certainly a piece of legislation that the president doesn't support."
This is the clearest indicator yet that Obama could veto the bill if it were to pass the Senate vote.
The issue, along with immigration, has taken center stage in the final days of this Congress before a Republican-controlled Senate takes over in January. Supporters of the measure, including all 45 Senate Republicans, found the final vote they needed in Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu, who faces a very close runoff for her seat on December 6.
The vote is also a preview of what could lie ahead for Obama when it comes to environmental and energy issues once the Republicans control both houses of Congress.
Opponents of the bill include the independent Senator from Maine, Angus King, who said, "Congress is not - nor should it be - in the business of legislating the approval or disapproval of a construction project." Other strong criticism has come from Nebraska, where a lawsuit has been filed over the route of the pipeline, which threatens the state's Sand Hills region.
Perhaps the most outspoken critics of the project have been members of several of the Sioux nations of Native Americans, through whose lands the pipeline would run. The tribes live in a stretch of the continent that spreads from Nebraska in the central United States to parts of southern Canada.
Several Sioux nations, including the Oglala Lakota, have threatened to close their borders if anyone endeavors to lay pipeline through their land, and the leader of the Rosebud Sioux called any attempt to circumvent Native American authority in the matter "an act of war," according to multiple news outlets.
es/mkg (AP, Reuters)