Reid says he’d allow Keystone pipeline vote

“If it were the only totally non-relevant, non-germane amendment, that would be fine . . . but they have got lots of them,” Reid said.

Sens. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and David Vitter (R-La.) want to amend the sweeping transportation funding bill with a measure that authorizes TransCanada Corp. to build Keystone, which would bring oil from Alberta’s massive tar sands projects to Gulf Coast refineries.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that lawmakers are close to an agreement on which amendments to the transportation bill will be considered. Click here for more on the wrangling over the transportation bill.

The Obama administration in January rejected a cross-border permit for the Keystone XL project, but President Obama emphasized that the decision was not on the “merits.”

He instead objected to a permit decision deadline that Republicans demanded, alleging it would short-circuit review.

TransCanada plans to reapply for the cross-border permit and is also, with the White House’s blessing, planning to proceed with a portion of the project to bring U.S. oil from Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast.

Advocates of the broader Keystone project – which include powerful industry groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute – say it would boost U.S. energy security and create thousands of jobs.

Environmental groups bitterly oppose the project due to greenhouse gas emissions from extracting and burning oil sands, forest damage from the projects, and fears of spills along the pipeline route.