The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

May 12, 2014

Energy bill caught up in Keystone XL dispute

WASHINGTON (AP) — Days after President Barack Obama touted executive actions aimed at increasing energy efficiency, a bill with similar goals is expected to fall victim to partisan gridlock in the Senate.

A bipartisan bill to promote many of the same efficiency goals Obama touted Friday in California is expected to go down in defeat Monday amid a dispute over the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Co-sponsored by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, the energy bill would tighten efficiency guidelines for new federal buildings and provide tax incentives to make homes and commercial buildings more efficient.

The measure is widely popular in the Senate and easily cleared a procedural hurdle last week. But then politics — and the dispute over the Keystone XL pipeline — intervened.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., used a parliamentary maneuver to block amendments on the bill, including a measure that would approve construction of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the United States. Supporters say the measure is needed to end years of delay by the Obama administration on whether to approve the project.

Republicans also were seeking an amendment to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from imposing new greenhouse gas regulations on coal-burning power plants.

Reid's actions came after Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell objected to Reid's offer to call an up-or-down vote on the energy bill, with a promise for a separate vote on Keystone later.

Pipeline supporters — including a number of Republicans — initially had called for a separate, up-or-down vote on Keystone, as a way to move the project forward or at least embarrass the president by making him veto a measure supported by at least 11 Democrats. Polls show widespread public support for the project, which Obama has delayed several times. Obama delayed the project indefinitely last month, citing uncertainty over the pipeline's route though Nebraska.

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