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J. Scott Applewhite / AP

The politics of energy in the new Republican Senate

The new GOP-controlled Senate moved one step closer to authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline this week

In a 63-32 vote Monday night, the Senate voted to move forward with debate on the Keystone XL pipeline.

President Barack Obama has threatened to veto a bill authorizing the pipeline if it lands on his desk. Bills need two-thirds support from the Senate — 67 votes — to override a veto.

“We’re asking the president again today to work with us to end the gridlock and get this job creating infrastructure project moving,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

The House of Representatives also voted in favor of Keystone last week, 266-153.

“As a new member of Congress, I’m proud that in our first week, we passed bipartisan legislation and approved the construction of the Keystone pipeline that will create thousands of jobs,” said Rep. Mimi Walters, R-Calif. “We’re off to a strong start.”

The president, environmentalists and Midwestern ranchers oppose the nearly 1,200-mile pipeline plan. They're concerned about potential effects on the land and climate.

“When a new majority takes over in the Congress, you know the first bill that they take up symbolizes their priorities,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. “Of all the things that they pick, they pick a bill that in terms of permanent job creation would be 35 jobs. And that’s proven by the State Department.”

“This is really a big hug and a big kiss to Big Oil and Canadian interests,” Boxer continued. “That’s what it’s about.”

If the pipeline is built, more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil per day would run from Canada to the U.S.

How many jobs would the Keystone XL pipeline really create?

Would Keystone XL improve U.S. energy independence?

And what would be the pipeline's impact on the climate?

We asked our on-air panel of experts for the Inside Story.

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