U.S House passes deadline bill for Keystone pipeline decision

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that would require the Obama administration to make a final decision on the expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline by Nov. 1. The vote was 279-147, with Colorado’s delegation voting along party lines, with one exception: Democrat Ed Perlmutter voted with Republicans in favor of the bill. Forty-seven Democrats cross the aisle to vote with the GOP; three Republicans crossed to vote against the measure.

Friends of the Earth, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Sierra Club quickly responded to the vote, calling the move “reckless and politically tainted” in a statement released to the press.

“While the pipeline disaster on the Yellowstone River in Montana is still unfolding, we should not approve a pipeline that isn’t needed, will raise gas prices and threatens drinking water and other resources from the Great Plains to Texas,” said the NRDC’s Susan Casey-Lefkowitz. “This is another example of the House’s anti-environmental agenda, putting politics and special interests ahead of science and common sense.”

Last month, 34 Democrats wrote a letter to Environmental Protection Agency head Lisa Jackson and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, urging that permitting for the expansion continue only after issues like its greenhouse gas impacts, alternative routes, safety risks and impacts on low-income communities are analyzed.

Whether the bill will receive a vote in the U.S. Senate remains to be seen.

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