WASHINGTON — Senate supporters of the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline conceded Thursday they lack the 60 votes necessary to pass legislation authorizing immediate construction of the project, but said they remain hopeful of prevailing.
“At this point we’re still working to get 60,” said Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., as he and Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., introduced a bipartisan bill to end the delays and build the proposed oil pipeline from Canada to the U.S.
Landrieu, who chairs the Senate Energy Committee, faces a tough re-election challenge this fall, and has said she will use all her power to make sure the project is built.
In remarks on the Senate floor, she said supporters of the project think “there is so much potential for Canada, the U.S. and Mexico … to become completely not only energy independent, but an energy powerhouse for the world.”
She added, “what signal does it send if America is not willing to do its part when it comes to production right here?”
In a statement, Landrieu and Hoeven said the legislation has the support of 11 Democrats and all 45 of the Senate’s Republicans, a total of 56 of the 60 that will be needed. “A vote on the bill is expected in the coming days,” they added.
Six Democrats targeted
The obvious targets for additional support include six Democrats who voted in favor of a nonbinding proposal 13 months ago that expressed general support for the project: Sens. Michael Bennet, of Colorado; Bob Casey, of Pennsylvania; Chris Coons, of Delaware; Tom Carper, of Delaware; Tim Johnson, of South Dakota; and Bill Nelson, of Florida.
Among the group, Casey noted he has twice before voted in favor of the project, and said it was “probably a good guess” to assume he will do so again.
Carper said he is undecided, and intends to meet with Landrieu, Hoeven and others in the coming days. Johnson, Coons and Nelson indicated Thursday they do not support the legislation to require construction.