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Obama Vetoes Keystone XL Pipeline Bill

Updated at 4:04 p.m. ET

The White House has notified the Senate that President Obama has, as promised, vetoed congressional legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project.

"Through this bill, the United States Congress attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest," Obama said in the notification to the Senate.

The U.S. State Department has been reviewing the pipeline for more than six years, working to determine whether it is in the national interest. Congressional Republicans want to circumvent that process and grant a permit immediately.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Senate will vote no later than March 3 to override Obama's veto.

Republicans would need two-thirds of votes in each chamber to override Obama's veto. They do not appear to have enough votes to do that.

Reaction to the expected veto of the bill was swift.

Greg Rickford, Canada's minister of natural resources, said, "It is not a question of if this project will be approved; it is a matter of when. We will continue to strongly advocate for this job-creating project."

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called Obama's rejection of the measure " a national embarrassment."

The Sierra Club said Republicans "continued to waste everyone's time" despite the presidential veto threat "just to satisfy the agenda of their big oil allies." And the American Petroleum Institute said "the facts and the science back approval of this pipeline" and urged Obama to approve the project.

As we have previously reported, Republicans made approving the Keystone XL pipeline one of their top priorities when they took control of Congress in January.

The House voted to approve the measure Jan. 9. The Senate approved another version of the bill on Jan. 29. The House voted Feb. 11 to endorse the Senate's changes — which added language saying climate change was real, and oil sands should not be exempt from a spill-cleanup tax — and sent the measure to the White House.

Politicians from both parties, some unions and energy companies support approving the pipeline; environmental groups, some Nebraska landowners and some liberal Democrats oppose it.

The U.S. State Department is still reviewing the project, and it's unclear when it will make a final assessment on whether the pipeline is in the national interest.

For more on the project, please go here.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.