White House hints at veto of Keystone bill

The White House on Thursday hinted that President Obama could veto congressional legislation approving the Keystone XL pipeline, as lawmakers in both the House and Senate were readying votes on the controversial construction project.

"Our dim view of these kinds of proposals has not changed,” press secretary Josh Earnest said.

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Earnest reiterated that the State Department was still reviewing the controversial pipeline project and that litigation in a Nebraska court isn't resolved.

On Wednesday, Sen. Mary LandrieuMary Landrieu oil is changing the world and Washington Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Republican announces bid for Vitter’s seat MORE (D-La.), facing long odds in a Dec. 6 runoff election, requested unanimous consent to proceed on a vote approving the pipeline. With nearly a dozen Democrats supporting the measure, the Louisiana senator may have the votes to pass the bill.

“I am glad that we will now have an up-or-down vote on the Hoeven-Landrieu bill to green light the Keystone pipeline, and I urge all senators to join me in the effort to approve this important project,” Landrieu said in a statement.

House Republicans are also offering a Keystone bill offered by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who is challenging Landrieu in the runoff.

"The House has passed legislation to expedite the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline eight times. The Senate did not consider any of the eight,” Cassidy said in a statement.

“I will now pass a bill identical to the bill the Senate is said to consider to push this issue forward. If the Senate also passes the bill it can go straight to the President's desk for signature,” he continued.

Environmental groups have rallied against the pipeline, arguing a spill could have a disastrous environmental impact and that its construction would encourage Canadian oil sands extraction. But advocates of the project say the pipeline is more eco-friendly than shipping oil by rail and that construction would create jobs.

The White House has said it will not weigh in on the project until the conclusion of the State Department review. In April, the department announced it was delaying its decision until after the midterm elections because of the court battle in Nebraska.

Asked about the prospect of legislation on Keystone during a post-election press conference last week, Obama said the review process was "moving forward."

"I’m going to let that process play out," Obama said. "I’ve given some parameters in terms of how I think about it: Ultimately, is this going to be good for the American people? Is it going to be good for their pocketbook? Is it going to actually create jobs?  Is it actually going to reduce gas prices that have been coming down? And is it going to be, on net, something that doesn’t increase climate change that we’re going to have to grapple with?"