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Environment

Keystone Pipeline Bill Passes Senate With Energy Efficiency Measures

After House and Senate work out their differences, measure could face President’s veto

by Steven K. Gibb
February 2, 2015

Energy efficiency amendments attached to the Keystone pipeline bill (S. 1) that the Senate passed last week would boost energy efficiency in commercial buildings and schools.

Sen. Robert J. Portman (R-Ohio) says President Obama has expressed support for the energy efficiency measures that he and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (R-N.H.) sponsored. Portman is urging President Barack Obama to back away from his veto threat of the legislation. The Senate does not appear to have the 67 votes necessary to override a veto.

“I hope the President reconsiders his veto threat. It’s a commonsense bill … and also contains popular bipartisan provisions like my energy efficiency amendment that the President himself already supports,” Portman says.

The scope of their energy efficiency amendment was scaled down after interparty disputes but still promotes energy efficiency in commercial buildings and federally managed properties. Another amendment added to the bill by Sen. Susan M. Collins (R-Maine) would boost energy efficiency in school buildings.

The amendments are part of a bill the Senate passed 62-36 that would force approval of the $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline to carry oil between Canada and Texas refineries. Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), who authored the legislation, told reporters that if Obama does not sign the Keystone XL measure, Congress will attach its language to another bill, possibly broader energy legislation or a spending measure.

William R. Carteaux, President of the Society of the Plastics Industry, praises the Senate vote, saying the industry “relies heavily on natural resources for its valuable feedstock.”

Calvin M. Dooley, CEO of the American Chemistry Council, a chemical industry group, wrote in a Jan. 7 letter to House leaders that it will enhance “energy security while helping to get energy to manufacturers and other businesses that will use it to create jobs.”

The House of Representatives has also passed a Keystone XL pipeline bill (H.R. 3), but it has a number of differences with the Senate legislation. House and Senate negotiators must hammer out common legislative language before the measure gets sent to President Obama.

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