OREANDA-NEWS. President Barack Obama today vetoed a bill to authorize construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Obama followed through on repeated threats to reject the Republican-controlled Congress' attempt to force his hand on Canadian midstream company TransCanada's request to build the \$8bn, 830,000 b/d project. He said the bill would circumvent a process for determining whether a pipeline that crosses the US-Canadian border would be in the national interest.

"This act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest – including our security, safety and environment," Obama said.

Obama said the bill "earned my veto." This is the third veto of Obama's presidency.

Lawmakers quickly began the process to try to override the veto. But the move is largely political theater. To override a presidential veto, proponents would need the support of two thirds of the members of both houses of Congress. But they are not expected to have enough voters in either chamber.

The bill would have enabled TransCanada to proceed with construction without further regulatory scrutiny. This most recent Keystone XL legislation was approved by the Senate on 29 January and the US House of Representatives on 11 February. The House has approved Keystone XL legislation 11 times.

The bill included provisions to improve the energy efficiency of schools, federal buildings, commercial buildings and water heaters. It featured non-binding language expressing the sense of the Senate – not applicable to the House – "that climate change is real and not a hoax." And it expressed the Senate's view that crude produced from Canada's oilsands and transported through a US pipeline should be subject to the 8?/bl excise tax paid to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

TransCanada has been struggling for more than six years to win approval to build the pipeline, which would transport crude from Alberta's oil sands and the US Bakken formation to the US midcontinent. There it would link up with an existing infrastructure serving refineries on the US Gulf Coast.

The US State Department has yet to determine if construction of the project would be in the national interest. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on 2 February questioned the State Department's finding that Canada's oil sands will be developed fully regardless of whether the Keystone XL pipeline gets built.

TransCanada chief executive Russ Girling said the company remains committed to building the pipeline. Girling said Keystone XL would be the safest pipeline ever built in the US. Girling said that denying a permit for Keystone XL will mean that increasing volumes of Canadian and Bakken crude will be transported by rail, barge and truck "which are less efficient and less safe."

A CSX train carrying Bakken crude derail in West Virginia on 16 February, igniting 19 cars and sending a flaming mushroom cloud up in the air. A run-away train carrying crude killed 47 people in Lac-Megantic, Quebec in 2013.

The US will send billions of dollars overseas "when the oil that is needed can be sourced right here in North America," Girling said.

Obama in December said bill supporters had over-hyped the pipeline's benefits, saying it would be "very good for Canadian oil companies" but not a huge benefit to US consumers. Obama said Keystone XL would give Canadian producers a cheaper way to transport crude to world markets than trucks or rail. "Once that oil gets to the Gulf, it is then entering into the world market, and it would be sold all around the world."

But oil consultancy IHS Cera, in a 23 February report, found that most, if not all, of the crude shipped via Keystone XL and an existing network to the US Gulf coast would remain in the US. And about 70pc of the refined products produced from that oil would be consumed in the US. "The reality is that the US Gulf coast is the world's largest, single refining market for heavy crudes such as oil sands, making it unlikely these barrels would be exported offshore," IHS Energy senior director Aaron Brady said.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) called Obama's veto "a short-sighted, politically-driven mistake" and a "failure of leadership." American Petroleum Institute president Jack Gerard said the veto "proved once again that it is politics as usual here in Washington."

But environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council president Rhea Suh said the "misguided bill" has "met its just and expected doom."