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Politics Puts Kibosh on Keystone XL Pipeline

The Obama administration recently vetoed legislation that would allow for the completion of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Congress has yet to move on overriding the President’s veto, while the final stage of the project moves back to a U.S. Department of State review — where it has been stalled for years.

Last month, Texas oil and gas officials immediately condemned Obama’s veto of the pipeline legislation. The Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association (TIPRO), which supports the Keystone Pipeline, said the U.S. has 2.5 million miles of safe oil and natural gas pipelines. They feel that Obama’s decision was purely political and that it “has no basis in science,” according to the San Antonio Business Journal.

“While some organizations seek an outright ban on the use of hydrocarbons in the United States, and certain politicians incorrectly accept their flawed ideology, our country and world run on fossil fuels, and pipelines are without question the safest and most environmentally sound way of moving oil and natural gas,” TIPRO President Ed Longanecker told the San Antonio Business Journal.

As we pointed out a couple of months ago, most of the Keystone Pipeline project is already completed. Obama’s veto keeps in limbo a final stretch of the project — a connection between Hardisty, Alberta, and Steele City, Neb.

Many political pundits speculate that Obama vetoed a bill that would have allowed that last stretch of the pipeline to be completed because Obama needs stronger political standing in regards to his global warming policies.

It is unclear how the pipeline might resurface in the 2016 presidential election. So far, all of the Republican candidates say they support its completion while Democratic front-runners remain opposed to it.

As Americans wait for the State Department to issue an opinion, or as we wait for signs that Congress will attempt to override Obama’s veto, a few other issues remain unresolved related to the Keystone Pipeline, such as:

Energy prices remain low. Oil prices have dipped below $40 a barrel in global markets, and natural gas has hovered around the $2.05 per million British thermal units. With low energy prices, some speculate that there may not be sufficient economic pressure to force Congress or the State Department to act on the Keystone Pipeline.

Legal fights in Nebraska rage on. Landowners in Nebraska continue to challenge the pipeline’s proposed route, especially on their properties. TransCanada has used eminent domain for the project, and a Nebraska district judge issued a temporary injunction on land seizures related to the project. Another judge recently threw out that lawsuit, and it’s unclear whether additional appeals will occur.