House Votes On Full Passage Of Keystone Pipeline

Today was a big day in Keystone XL news, with the House voting to approve a pipeline construction bill – the president already said he would veto – and the Nebraska Supreme Court mostly blessing the controversial oil transport project.

But a final decision could still be months away as two separate processes continue to unfold. The Senate still needs to vote in the next few weeks on the legislation that will ultimately land on the president’s desk and almost certainly be vetoed. While the State Department is now finalizing its review, a task that was held up waiting for the Nebraska legal decision.

The State Department then needs to receive comments from several agencies before turning its study over to Secretary of State John Kerry for a final decision.

“There’s no time limit on him for concluding this,” a senior official told the Washington Post.

It is theoretically possible for President Obama to veto the congressional legislation – that’s essentially being rammed down his throat – but then approve the pipeline’s construction based on the State Department’s finding, which is the decision-making framework endorsed by the White House all along.

However, the administration could be looking to kill the project. There is not much to lose by doing so at this point and the president could now be more focused on building his legacy – with climate being a legacy issue – Elias Hinckley, a Strategy and Innovation for Energy Finance lawyer and Partner at Sullivan & Worcester told Breaking Energy.

Regardless of which way the Keystone pipeline pendulum eventually swings, it looks like the issue will finally be settled this year, which will be a relief for many on both sides.