The House voted 252-161 today to direct the federal government to move forward on the Keystone XL pipeline to transport Canadian tar sands across the Great Plains en route to Texas refineries, which will make products to ship overseas.

All four Arkansas House members voted for the measure, as usual.

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It’s mostly for show. The nay votes are enough to sustain a presidential veto should the bill pass the Senate, which is dubious with the current Democratic majority.

President Obama intends to veto the bill for now in part because a court challenge to the route is still pending in Nebraska.

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I’ve asked Rep. Tom Cotton, who put out a statement praising the vote and criticizing Obama, whether he’d vote for the pipeline if it passed through Arkansas. (I don’t expect a response.) Many farmers on the pipeline route fear the threat to an important aquifer.

Supporters say an oil pipeline poses no environmental threat (though Canadians aren’t anxious to have it built to one of their Pacific gateways). Perhaps Arkansas should volunteer to participate in a new route, maybe along the same pathway that the ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline passes. What could possibly go wrong?

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More seriously, vox has a good explanatory story on the pipeline.