Associated Press
President Barack Obama vetoed legislation that would have circumvented State Department approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

President Obama Vetoes Keystone XL Bill, Invoking Integrity of Review Process


As promised, President Barack Obama on February 24 vetoed legislation that would have forced the Keystone XL pipeline through by eliminating the need for State Department approval for the project, which crosses the international border with Canada.

“I am returning herewith without my approval S. 1, the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act,” Obama said in his veto statement. “Through this bill, the United States Congress attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest.”

This is just the third time Obama has vetoed legislation, USA Today noted, “but likely to be the first in a series of vetoes as he parries a Republican-controlled Congress in the last two years of his presidency.”

Those in opposition lauded the decision but added that it should be considered a precursor to a complete rejection of the proposed pipeline.

“Vetoing KXL, Obama is showing that he’s listened to the Oceti Sakowin—Seven Council Fires of the Dakota, Nakota, Lakota Nations and all people resisting the pipeline,” said Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, in a statement. “But the fight is not over. We need an outright REJECTION of the KXL permit. That would be the final nail in the coffin for Keystone XL. We stand united with Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island who are fighting against tar sands development and infrastructure, from northern Alberta to the Great Plains to the Gulf. We will see this fight through to the end.”

RELATED: Tribal Leaders Tell Obama to Reject Keystone XL Pipeline, Request U.S. Interior Meeting

The 36-inch-diameter, 1,179-mile-long pipeline would run up to 830,000 barrels daily of bituminous crude from the oil sands of Alberta, Canada to an existing pipeline in Steele City, Nebraska, would-be builder TransCanada said on its website. From there the oil would travel to refineries in the Midwest and on the Gulf of Mexico coast in Texas, where portions of Keystone XL have already been completed and are operational. U.S. State Department approval is needed for the part that crosses the U.S.–Canada border.

It had passed in the House 270–152 and the Senate 62–36, both without veto-proof majorities. Nevertheless, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told USA Today, they will schedule an override vote.

“The Presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously,” Obama said. “But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people. And because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest—including our security, safety, and environment—it has earned my veto.”

Opponents reacted enthusiastically and called on Obama's administration to reject the pipeline altogether.

“President Obama just stood up with farmers, ranchers and tribal nations to protect our land and water,” said Jane Kleeb, editor and founder of Bold Nebraska, the alliance of landowners, conservationists and tribes opposing the pipeline, in a statement. “The President’s veto comes at a time when Republicans will do anything Big Oil asks, even if it means putting our families at risk of water pollution. We call upon the President to use that same courage and leadership by rejecting the KXL permit once and for all."

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