A closer look at the Keystone pipeline

In 2012, President Barack Obama toured the TransCanada Stillwater Pipe Yard in Cushing, Okla. (AP file)
In 2012, President Barack Obama toured the TransCanada Stillwater Pipe Yard in Cushing, Okla. (AP file)

The lame duck Senate is scheduled to vote late Tuesday on a controversial pipeline project that will no doubt return early next year if it falls short now.

Backers of the Keystone XL oil pipeline need 60 votes in the 100-seat Senate to prevent a filibuster. The House of Representatives passed a companion bill Friday, meaning Senate approval will put the matter on President Barack Obama’s desk.

The $8 billion project to pump crude oil from western Canada to Nebraska has been on hold for years, pending a review by the U.S.. State Department to determine if it "serves the national interest" as it passes the international border.

PolitiFact has checked some the claims surrounding the project as it gains more attention.

Supporters say the 1,179-mile pipeline cite a State Department report suggesting the project will create tens of thousands of jobs.

Russ Girling, CEO of TransCanada, said in an interview this week that those 42,000 positions will be "ongoing, enduring jobs."

That’s wrong. The report does conclude that 42,100 jobs would be "supported by the construction of the proposed project."

But 99 percent of them are temporary construction jobs that last up to two years. Once built, the project will employ just 50 new people, mostly in maintenance roles.

We rated Girling’s claim False.

Also of issue for supporters is the lengthy delay of votes on the project.

While the State Department will have final say, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace repeated a claim this week that the delay is because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "has blocked any vote on the Keystone pipeline for years."

That’s not quite right.

Twice this year Reid said he would allow a vote on Keystone if the Senate approved a bipartisan energy efficiency bill sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

Republicans rejected the offer both times. That was in part because Reid blocked several amendments to the Shaheen-Portman bill, but it still kept the Senate from voting on Keystone.

Likewise, the Senate voted on a Keystone approval amendment in March 2012, which failed. A non-binding amendment on Keystone passed in March 2013, as part of a Senate budget resolution.

But as for standalone bills to approve Keystone, none of the five measures in the Senate have come up for a vote. By comparison, the House has voted on approve Keystone nine times.

Given that context, we rated Wallace’s claim Half True.