Florida U.S. Senator Bill Nelson key to future of Keystone Pipeline

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Florida Sen. Bill Nelson is being viewed as a possible key vote Tuesday as the U.S. Senate decides whether or not to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, six years after it was first proposed by a Canadian oil company.

The more than 1,100-mile pipeline is proposed to carry up to 830,000 barrels of Canadian tar sands oil through the Midwest and into Gulf of Mexico ports for refinement.

Supporters point to the major economic boost of adding 42,000 jobs during construction and 117,000 over 15 years as well as the benefit of importing oil from a trusted ally. National construction, manufacturing and energy companies are clamoring for the project, citing the need for work and the high level of environmental and safety controls being proposed by TransCanada.

Opponents cite environmental concerns, including climate change as a threat of developing tar sands oil.

The project has strong bipartisan support, with many Democrats believing it is the right move for the country’s economy. The U.S. House of Representatives last week voted in favor of approving the pipeline, with 31 of the 252 positive votes coming from the left. The U.S. Senate is slated to vote on it Tuesday.

Last year, Nelson voted in favor of the project, which has undergone many studies by the U.S. Department of State over the last six years. Recent media reports state that he may vote no this time, unless revisions are made to the bill to ensure none of the oil is exported.

Calls and emails into Nelson’s offices on the Keystone XL Pipeline have picked up since last week’s announcement that the Senate would be calling for a vote. To reach Sen. Nelson, call 202-224-5274.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.