A bill authorizing the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline was defeated in Congress Tuesday by one vote. The pipeline, which would connect oil in Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast, has sparked an expensive debate between the oil industry and environmentalists. Supporters argue that the pipeline will add thousands of jobs to the U.S. economy and offer a new supply of domestic gas, whereas opponents argue that the pipeline would have irreversible effects on the environment.
The bill was supported by 59 senators, including all 45 Republicans, bringing it one vote short of the 60 necessary to authorize the construction. The loss dealt a political blow to Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La), who championed the bill. Because the pipeline would create jobs in her state, Louisiana, the bill was heavily favored there. Landrieu is locked in a close run-off election on December 6 against Republican challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Although the construction of the pipeline is stalled, Republicans have promised that they will return to this issue in January, when the new Republican-majority Congress takes office.