Obama denies Keystone XL Pipeline permit

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 18, 2012- The Obama Administration rejected the permit to begin construction on the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline today, which would cost approximately $7 billion and carry oil from Canada through six states to the Gulf Coast.

The U.S. Department of State recommended that the President should deny the permit for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline and determine it does not serve the national interest as it stands. The President agreed with the recommendation, claiming the Department does not have sufficient time to obtain the necessary information to assess whether the project, in its current state, is in the national interest.

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“Secretary Clinton was very clear ahead of time that if she was forced to make a decision on the pipeline without all of the environmental studies being completed, that she would have to recommend against it. So there's actually no surprise here,” said Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.). “I'm hopeful that once the necessary environmental studies are done, this project can be considered on the merits.”

However, Republicans in Congress claim the permit denial is a political stunt aimed at appeasing environmental groups and that it denies thousands of potential American jobs and national energy security. 

“Canada will now have to look to other nations, like China, to sell its oil reserves to,” said Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) after the announcement today. “This is not the end of the fight. Republicans in Congress will continue to push this because it's good for our country and our economy.”

The White House last November delayed a final decision until after the 2012 election, citing the need for more review, particularly due to concerns about the pipeline's route through the ecologically sensitive Sand Hills of Nebraska. The State Department, which began reviewing the Keystone XL Pipeline project in 2008, announced it would work with the state of Nebraska and TransCanada to find a responsible route for the pipeline around the state's Sand Hills.

In December, Congress passed legislation requiring the President to approve or reject the non-Nebraska portions of the pipeline within 60 days, while leaving Nebraska time to determine its route. The Administration said the deadline is too short to make such a decision.

"The President apparently lacks faith in Nebraska's ability to select a route,” said Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.). “There is no legitimate justification for the delay. The President says he wants to help create jobs, but when presented with an opportunity to create tens of thousands of jobs in middle America, he turns his head. This is pure politics aimed at not riling up his base during an election year."

The White House argued that it would be irresponsible to sign the permit while Nebraska is still reviewing pipeline routes to avoid regions of the state.

"This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people," said President Obama in a statement today. "I'm disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision, but it does not change my Administration's commitment to American-made energy that creates jobs and reduces our dependence on oil."


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