A bill to approve the controversial transcontinental pipeline was approved in the House of Representatives, only to be voted down by the senate during midterm elections.
In a close 59 to 41 vote, with only 60 votes in favor needed to pass the bill which would allow completion to commence, the senate overturned the bill approved by the House of Representatives in a previous vote. According to Reuters, all 45 Republican senators voted aye but with only 14 Democratic pro-pipeline votes, the party had enough nays to keep the bill from passing.
Environmental groups and others concerned with the local and global environmental impact of the project rejoiced at the defeat since “The proposed $7 billion tar sands oil pipeline would run 2,000 miles across the American heartland, crossing the country’s largest freshwater aquifer to reach the Texas Gulf Coast” according to the National Resource Defense Council.
Earlier this year, hundreds of Georgetown University students protested outside the Whitehouse in an event the called XL Dissent to demonstrate the youth disapproval of the pipeline, resulting in arrests. The youth of the nation often find themselves without a voice in political issues, and often feel underrepresented in an arena where representatives are often at least 20-30 years their senior.
Originally proposed by the TransCanada corporation in 2005, the pipeline has ridden a roller coaster of popular opinion from near uncontested approval in 2011, to becoming a national controversy threatened by presidential veto in 2014. Much of the future decision making has been put on hold until the state of Nebraska decides whether or not they will allow the pipeline to traverse their state in order to connect the Canadian section of the pipeline to the portion that has already been completed in the Southern United States.
The tar sands oil from Canada would be one way to supplement the import of oil from overseas, and other fossil fuel projects. But many fear that the refinement of that oil would be both dirty and expensive, not to mention the environmental cost of increased carbon emissions amidst of the fight to counteract climate change.
A quote from billionaire Thomas Steyer, who spent millions of his own money in opposition of the pipeline said, “Today the U.S. Senate decided to stand on the right side of history…This is a legacy-defining issue where one’s position signifies whether they are standing up for or against the next generation on the issue of climate” in a quote to the New York Times. But Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has indicated that he plans to schedule another vote on the issue when the new Senate convenes which is predominantly Republican after the November 2014 midterm elections.