Montana senator shames Democrats' flip-flop on Keystone XL Pipeline, fracking

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Republican Montana Sen. Steve Daines on Friday condemned Democrats for flip-flopping on his amendment to continue construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in a budget resolution for coronavirus relief, and now, the future of the pipeline remains in limbo.

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The Senate early Friday morning concluded its "vote-a-rama" session in which Republicans forced Democrats to vote on a number of amendments for the budget resolution, voting 51-50 to clear the nearly $2 trillion relief package with Vice President Kamala Harris voting to break the tie.

Senate Democrats initially voted to approve Daines' amendment but later approved an 11th-hour amendment from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., undoing Daines' amendment and two others that had passed with bipartisan majorities regarding fracking and stimulus checks for illegal immigrants.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., joined by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., right. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

"Early this morning while the American people were asleep, Senate Democrats chose to flip flop on their support for my Keystone XL pipeline amendment, as well as @SenatorBraun's amendment to support fracking," Daines said in a Friday tweet.

He continued: "They chose to stand with Green New Deal radicals over American jobs & blue-collar workers. They chose to stand against tax revenue for counties & low energy costs for families."

The amendment would have ultimately expedited the passage of Daines' and Republican Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy's legislation authorizing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

President Biden signed an executive order on his first day in office halting construction of the pipeline that would transport up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska.

"For those representing Western states and for those that flip-flopped on their support, you’ll have some explaining to do, not just on your opposition to the pipeline and fracking, but for your misleading attempt to pull a fast one to protect a partisan, far-Left agenda," a spokesperson for Daines said in a Friday statement.

Proponents of the pipeline say it would provide tens of thousands of jobs to American workers and make the U.S. less reliant on foreign oil from Russia, Saudi Arabia and other nations. An existing Keystone pipeline currently transports oil from Alberta to Illinois and Texas.

Miles of unused pipe, prepared for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, sit in a lot on October 14, 2014 outside Gascoyne, North Dakota. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

According to the Keystone XL website, the project, initially proposed more than a decade ago, would sustain about 11,000 U.S. jobs in 2021  including 8,000 union jobs  and generate $1.6 billion in gross wages.

Opponents of the pipeline argue that potential oil spills along the pipeline's route could pollute waters, especially those on Native American lands, and contribute to climate change.

One spill along the existing Keystone pipeline discovered in North Dakota in October 2019 leaked an estimated 383,000 gallons of oil and affected about 209,100 square feet, or 4.8 acres, of land.

In April, a U.S. judge said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to adequately consider effects on endangered species – such as pallid sturgeon, a fish that lives in the Missouri and Mississipi River drainages and has existed for tens of millions of years  the pipeline would cross, but did not shut down work that already had begun along the U.S.-Canada border at the time.

Fox News' Tyler Olson contributed to this report.

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