Pipeline, energy bill backers vow to keep up fight

Supporters of a popular energy savings bill and the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline say they will keep trying to force Senate action on the measures, even after they were defeated amid partisan gridlock in the Senate.
By The Associated Press Published: May 13, 2014
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Supporters of a popular energy savings bill and the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline say they will keep trying to force Senate action on the measures, even after they were defeated amid partisan gridlock in the Senate.

The energy legislation would tighten efficiency guidelines for new federal buildings and provide tax incentives to make homes and commercial buildings more efficient. The pipeline measure would force a decision by President Barack Obama on the long-delayed project to carry oil from Canada to the U.S.

Both proposals fell victim to election-year politics Monday night, as a procedural motion to end debate on the energy bill without amendments fell five votes short of the 60 votes needed for approval. The demise of the energy bill also sealed the fate of the pipeline measure. Senate Democratic leaders said the pipeline vote could occur only after Senate action on an unamended energy bill.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat who has pushed for the Keystone XL pipeline, took to Twitter within minutes of the Senate vote, vowing, “The fight for (hash)KeystoneXL continues.”

Landrieu said the procedural defeat was “just the latest skirmish” in a long battle to approve the pipeline, which would carry oil derived from tar sands in western Canada to Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines to bring oil to the Texas Gulf Coast, near the Louisiana line.

The chief sponsors of the energy savings bill, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, also vowed to keep up efforts to pass their bill, which they have been working on for more than three years.

Portman called it “a sad day in the U.S. Senate” when a bill backed by more than 270 organizations “can’t get votes on a few amendments to pass it.”

Still, Portman said he would continue to work with Democrats and Republicans to try to find a way forward on the energy bill, part of a “national, all-of-the-above energy strategy.”

Political maneuvers

The energy bill easily cleared a procedural hurdle last week but stalled after Republican demand for votes on the Keystone XL pipeline and on new rules proposed by the Obama administration on greenhouse gas limits for coal-burning power plants.

Republicans are united in favor of the pipeline and against the new power plant regulations, while Democrats are deeply divided on both. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., used a parliamentary maneuver to block Senate votes on the pipeline and power plant rules as part of the energy savings bill.