By Timothy Gardner and Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bill to force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline failed in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, sparing President Barack Obama from having to veto legislation that several fellow Democrats supported.
The measure fell just short of the 60 votes needed for passage, despite frantic last-minute lobbying by supporters, including Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana who faces a runoff election on Dec. 6. She has staked her hopes of winning on the Keystone gambit.
The tally was 59 to 41 on TransCanada Corp's $8 billion, 800,000 barrels-per-day project, with all 45 Republicans supporting it.
Obama opposed the Keystone bill and wants the State Department to finish its review of the pipeline. He has said he would not approve the pipeline if it significantly raised greenhouse gas emissions.
If the bill had passed, Obama was widely expected to have vetoed it, a power he has used only three times in six years. He raised new questions about the project during a trip to Asia late last week, saying it would not lower gas prices for drivers but would allow Canada to "pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else."
Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, who will become Senate Majority Leader in January after his party made big gains in this month's midterm elections, said after the vote that consideration of a Keystone bill would be "very early up" in the next Congress.
Republican Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, who co-sponsored the Keystone bill with Landrieu, has pledged to keep trying to force approval of the project that the administration has kept under review for more than six years. Hoeven may introduce a new bill in January or February, or he could attach a Keystone measure to a broader bill that Obama would find difficult to veto.
TransCanada shares closed down 57 Canadian cents at C$56 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday.
(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Valerie Volcovici, Ros Krasny, Amanda Becker, and Richard Cowan; editing by Steve Orlofsky, Bill Trott, Paul Simao, Matthew Lewis, Cynthia Osterman and Ken Wills)