Skip to main content

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at AARP headquarters in Washington February 23, 2015.GARY CAMERON/Reuters

Keystone XL's supporters – back in Washington after a congressional recess – on Tuesday will deliver the bill to U.S. President Barack Obama that attempts to wrest control of the pipeline's approval.

And Mr. Obama will – as he has been vowing for months – veto it, while claiming that doesn't necessarily mean he will eventually reject the controversial Canadian pipeline.

"The President will veto that legislation… I would not anticipate a lot of drama or fanfare around it," Mr. Obama's spokesman John Earnest said Monday.

In fact, Keystone XL is all political drama, at least on Capitol Hill.

The arrival of the bill – passed earlier this month by both houses of Congress – in the Oval Office sets a 10-day clock running. If Mr. Obama doesn't veto it within that time, it will become law. The bill approves construction of the $8-billion (U.S.) TransCanada Corp. project by taking the decision away from the President.

But the White House has repeatedly made clear that Mr. Obama would veto the legislation – not because he has come to a final decision about the merits of the proposed pipeline – but because he believes the authority to decide on transborder infrastructure projects rests with the president, not Congress.

Once Mr. Obama vetoes the bill, Republicans, who now hold majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, will be faced with whether to try to hold votes to override the veto.

They need two-thirds majorities to do so and it is all-but-certain they will fall short, even with the backing of pro-Keystone XL Democrats in both houses.

Instead, some Republicans favour inserting Keystone XL-approval language into other legislation – such as a "must-pass" appropriations bill – thus setting up a higher-stakes showdown with the President over the long-delayed pipeline.

Keystone XL opponents hope the presidential veto will signal that Mr. Obama is prepared to reject the project.

Tiernan Sittenfeld, of the League of Conservation Voters, one of the leading environmental groups opposed to Keystone XL, said Monday that the group "commends President Obama for his commitment to veto the bill and for his incredible leadership in fighting climate change. We urge him to build on that leadership by rejecting the permit for this dirty and dangerous pipeline once and for all. "

Report an error

Editorial code of conduct

Tickers mentioned in this story