Helped along by Missouri’s Claire McCaskill, the U.S. Senate on Thursday approved construction of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline.
She was one of just nine Democrats who sided with Republican senators to approve the bill, 62-36.
But here’s the good news for environmentalists and other Americans: That falls short of the 67 votes that would be needed to override President Barack Obama’s promised veto.
So it’s back to the drawing board for Republican leaders. They are still looking for good enough arguments to convince other Democrats that the environmental threats created by Keystone are worth the small number of permanent jobs it would create.
The U.S. House also has passed a version of the Keystone bill.
For her part, McCaskill previously said in late 2014 that she backs the pipeline “because it isn’t a question of whether this oil gets produced — it’s just how it gets to market. Getting this project moving will mean creating jobs and business opportunities, and boosting America’s energy security. Those are goals we should all be able to get behind, and so my support and advocacy for this pipeline will continue.”
The “energy security” argument doesn’t look as effective as it once did, though, given the stunning plunge in oil prices and the ramped up production of petroleum in the United States over the last few years.
One of the more intriguing side points made during the Keystone discussion is that McCaskill has emerged as a possible broker of bipartisan deals in the Senate.
That could be a very good thing for McCaskill, Missouri and the country — if the deals are made on major issues such as progressive immigration reform.