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Three Democratic congressmen break ranks to vote in favor of Keystone XL pipeline

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Three of Minnesota's re-elected Democrat representatives broke party ranks to vote in favor of the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

Reps. Rich Nolan, Collin Peterson and Tim Walz added their names to the bill backed by to build a pipeline connecting oil fields in Alberta, with refineries in Oklahoma and Texas, passing through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska on the way.

MPR reports that while the pipeline does not directly affect Minnesota, the issue was seen as a "political litmus test" for the left and right in the run-up to last week's election.

The bill was approved by the house by a vote of 252 to 162, with 31 Democrats joining the unanimous Republican majority.

The Masabi Daily News said Rep. Nolan backed the bill as he thinks the pipeline will bring jobs, revenue, and reduce the United States' need for Middle-Eastern oil further.

He also added that he believes it is safer to transport the oil via pipeline rather than truck or rail car, the Star Tribune reports.

This comment was particularly timely considering a train carrying oil derailed west of Fargo, North Dakota, on Thursday which has once again brought the debate about railroad safety to the fore.

Democrats Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum voted no on the bill, the Star Tribune notes, while all three Republican representatives – Michele Bachmann, Erik Paulsen and John Kline – voted yes.

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