Senate Democrats narrowly defeated the controversial North American oil route Tuesday evening. In a 59-41 vote, there was not enough support to authorize the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the American Gulf Coast.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of the project last week. Both houses needed to pass the legislation for it to become law.
The pipeline would move more than 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada’s oil sands to refineries on the gulf coast of Texas. It would also serve as a vehicle for all new oil production in North Dakota to reach refineries.
The oil sands produced almost 2 million barrels of oil a day in 2013.
American landowners and global environmentalists mobilized heavily against Keystone XL citing forest degradation and the devastation that would come from a leak.
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U.S. President Barack Obama has delayed approval of the pipeline for four years, fearing it would create higher carbon emissions.
“He’s working towards making something positive happen in the climate change arena,” said pipeline opponent Art Tanderup of Nebraska. “And if we put Keystone XL through, we’re taking a step backwards. We’re not moving forward.”
Obama recently signed an emissions reduction agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping while on a recent state visit to Beijing, China.
Republican Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota said analysis at the U.S. State Department found that approval of the pipeline would actually lead to a decline in greenhouse gasses compared to transporting Canada’s heavy oil by rail or by tanker.
“The environmental impact statement shows that there’s actually less greenhouse gases with the project than without,” Hoeven told CCTV America. “It takes 1,400 rail cars a day to move this oil now, so actually the project reduces greenhouse gases.”
President Obama was almost certain to veto this project. However with the new Republican Senate majority taking office next year, Congress could have the votes to override a presidential veto.
For more on this controversial vote, CCTV America interviewed experts on each side of the debate. Sara Chieffo is a legislative director at the League of Conservation Voters, and Peggy Venable is a senior policy fellow at Americans for Prosperity.