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Moran, Roberts predict Senate will approve Keystone XL oil pipeline once GOP has majority

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TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas U.S. Sens. Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts are predicting that the Senate will move quickly to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline once fellow Republicans take control in January.

Moran and Roberts voted Tuesday evening for a measure that would've approved the pipeline, but it failed in the Democratic-controlled Senate on a 59-41, with it needing 60 votes to pass and go to Democratic President Barack Obama. The GOP-controlled House already had approved it.

The proposed pipeline for transporting oil from Canada to Texas has faced strong opposition from environmentalists, but the state's two Republican senators are vocal supporters, as is GOP Gov. Sam Brownback. The company behind the project, TransCanada, already has a pipeline through Kansas, bringing it online in 2011.

Roberts touted his strong support for the project in his successful race for re-election this year against independent candidate and Olathe businessman Greg Orman. The GOP recaptured a Senate majority in this month's elections, and Roberts said the Keystone measure failed because of "liberal obstructionists."

"However, this mistake will be quickly corrected," Roberts said in a statement. "Keystone is the single largest shovel-ready project in America, and construction of this critical project is long past due."

Like Roberts, Moran said the pipeline will create thousands of jobs while helping meet the nation's energy needs.

"It is only a matter of time before it is passed in the next Congress by the new Republican majority and sent to President Obama's desk," Moran said.

Kansas officials encouraged pipeline construction in their state by enacting a law in 2006 to exempt new pipelines from property taxes for 10 years.

But Moti Rieber, an Overland Park rabbi and director of the environmental group Kansas Interfaith Power & Light, applauded the U.S. Senate's decision.

Rieber said a pipeline spill could devastate environmentally sensitive areas in Kansas, including the scenic Flint Hills. He also said tapping the Canadian oil would set back efforts to control greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change.

"There is far more potential for job development and energy security in the transition to plentiful wind, solar and other clean, renewable and domestic sources of energy," Rieber said.


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