GOP's first order of business in 2015: Keystone XL Pipeline

ELANA SCHOR and BURGESS EVERETT --- Politico 

The new Republican Senate will take up the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline as its first order of business, incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.

The Kentucky Republican also said he plans to allow open amendment debate on the pro-Keystone legislation from Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.). That move could shake up the chamber’s seemingly calcified pipeline politics as senators vie to use the bill as a vehicle for other hot-button energy issues.

“I hope that senators on both sides will offer energy-related amendments, but there will be no effort to micromanage the amendment process,” McConnell told reporters. “And we’ll move forward and hopefully be able to pass a very important job-creating bill early in the session.”

Among potential energy amendments that senators could seek to attach to the Keystone bill are proposals to slow or stop EPA’s emissions rules for power plants and plans to fast-track liquefied natural gas exports.

McConnell added: “The notion that building another pipeline is somehow threatening to the environment is belied by the fact that we already have 19 pipelines, I’m told by Lisa Murkowski, that either cross the Mexican border or the Canadian border. Multiple studies showing over and over again no measurable harm to the environment. People want jobs, and this project will create high-wage jobs for our people and it certainly does enjoy a lot of bipartisan support. You saw that on the vote that was held a couple weeks ago.”

Murkowski (R-Alaska), the Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s incoming chairwoman, said an open amendment process on Keystone XL legislation would show that Republicans are ready to change the way the Senate has been operating.

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