In an abrupt election-year shift in strategy, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid opened the possibility of allowing a vote on congressional approval of the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline bill, a project that he has long opposed. He suggested tying the pipeline decision to the Shaheen-Portman Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S. 1392), legislation introduced by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH).
“I’m open to anything that will move energy efficiency,” Reid told reporters.
The Senate is expected to consider the Shaheen-Portman bill as early as the week of May 5, 2014. The XL pipeline project has been under consideration for more than five years.
The bipartisan Shaheen-Portman legislation is designed to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy costs in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors, while boosting competitiveness for American businesses.
The bill attributes chemistry as the responsible source for many of the energy efficiency technologies that enable the energy Americans use to go further than ever before. The use of chemistry in energy efficient products and technologies saves Americans up to $85 billion in energy costs every year.
The details were not made clear, but in exchange for Republican support of the efficiency bill, Reid could permit a vote on a measure that would allow Congress to approve the pipeline bill. The vote would possibly allow Democratic senators up for election in November to be perceived as supporting the project, although the compromise and deception are obvious. Nonetheless, even if the bill passes the Senate and something similar passes the House, President Obama will likely veto it.
Earlier this month, the State Department said it would delay a decision on the pipeline again until the Nebraska Supreme Court settles a dispute over the pipeline path. That would effectively delay the decision until after the November 4 elections which would be advantageous to both parties.
In the past, the White House has threatened to veto any attempts by Congress to force the approval of the Keystone project.