US Senate passes Keystone XL pipeline

The chamber voted 62-36 to approve the north-south pipeline to carry Canadian oil

The chamber voted 62-36 to approve the north-south pipeline to carry Canadian oil

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to approve construction a controversial oil pipeline.

The chamber voted 62-36 to authorize the Keystone XL pipeline that will carry oil from the Canadian tar sands to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.

Nine Democrats joined the Republican caucus to support the bill that passed following three weeks of debate on 41 amendments. 

The Obama administration has postponed for six years the approval of the pipeline due to environmental and political concerns. 

Proponents argue that the construction project would create jobs while opponents cite environmental concerns.

The House passed a similar bill Jan. 9 but because the Senate bill was amended, the two chambers will have to agree on one version before the bill goes to President Barack Obama who has threatened to veto the bill.

If approved, however, the pipeline will divorce the U.S. from the uncertainties of overseas sellers who pose risks to uninterrupted oil supplies due to the political instability of their regions.  

The XL extension will provide an additional capacity of 500,000 barrels per day, says its operator TransCanada, bringing the total capacity of the 2,150-mile (3,460-kilometer) long pipeline to more than 1 million barrels a day, with total investment reaching $12.2 billion.

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