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House passes bill to expedite XL approval

Keywords: Tags  Keystone XL, Northern Route Approval Act, Thomas Gibson, American Iron and Steel Institute, AISI, Rep. Pete Olson, TransCanada, Thorsten Schier

NEW YORK — The House of Representatives has passed a bill expediting the approval process for TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

The Northern Route Approval Act (H.R.3), which eliminates the need for a presidential permit, passed by a vote of 241 to 175, with 222 Republicans and 19 Democrats voting in favor and 175 Democrats voting against.

Some domestic steel industry representatives voiced strong support for the vote and the pipeline’s construction.

"This legislation illustrates the overwhelming support for this project and should be a sign to President Obama that he must end the gridlock and approve the pipeline," Thomas J. Gibson, president and chief executive officer of the American Iron and Steel Institute, said in a statement. "The production and transmission of energy also provides key markets for steel products which are vital to the national economic recovery."

Republicans touted the bill as a boon for job creation and national security.

"America needs action. America needs 20,000 jobs. America needs 800,000 barrels a day coming from Canada. America needs national security that comes from energy security. America needs the Keystone XL pipeline," Rep. Pete Olson (R., Texas) said during the debate on the House floor.

Despite the strong support from some quarters, Obama likely will veto the bill if it passes the Democrat-controlled Senate.

"Because H.R.3 seeks to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether cross-border pipelines are in the national interest by removing the presidential permitting requirement for the Keystone XL pipeline project, if presented to the President his senior advisors would recommend he veto the bill," the Office of Management and Budget said May 21.

Calgary, Alberta-based TransCanada initially planned to start Keystone XL construction in 2010 (, Sept. 24, 2009).

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