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Senate Democrats defeated a Republican-backed measure to speed up approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The Senate voted 56 to 42, narrowly rejecting a Republican-backed measure to speed up approval of the Keystone XL pipeline which would run through Nevada, according to CNN.
According to The Hill, President Barack Obama personally called Democrats, urging them to oppose the measure which needed 60 votes to bypass the Obama administration's objections to the controversial plan.
While gas prices soar, Republicans and the oil industry have criticized the Obama administration for failing to exploit oil and gas resources, said The Washington Post. They argue that the pipeline, which would transport oil from Canada and the norther states in America to Texas, would create jobs and improve energy security.
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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, "At a moment when millions are out of work, gas prices are sky-rocketing and the Middle East is in turmoil, we've got a president who's up making phone calls trying to block a pipeline here at home. It's unbelievable," according to Reuters.
The amendment, introduced by Sens. John Hoeven, Richard G. Lugar and David Vitter, was attached to a transportation spending bill and would have authorized construction of the 1,661-mile pipeline, by eliminating the need for a federal permit, required because it crosses an international border, reported The Post.
Obama had put the $7 billion TransCanada project on hold when Congress imposed a deadline for the federal permit, stating that it did not provide enough time for further environmental review. White House spokesman Clark Stevens said that the administration had approved construction of the southern leg of the pipeline, but wanted to see a new route planned through the environmentally sensitive area of Nebraska, according to Reuters.
Another amendment, introduced by Democrats would have barred the export of Canadian crude transported through the Keystone XL pipeline, said Bloomberg.
According to TransCanada, construction of the pipeline would temporarily create 20,000 construction jobs.
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