The Obama administration on Wednesday denied a permit for a new oil pipeline from Canada because it says congressional Republicans did not give the administration enough time to determine the project’s impact on public safety and the environment. The president’s political opponents say the move shows he is not serious about creating jobs.
The State Department recommended that President Obama reject the application for a new crude oil pipeline from Canada’s tar sands region to Texas refineries because of concerns about the proposed route through areas of the state of Nebraska that State Department officials say they did not have sufficient time to consider.
In a written statement from the White House, President Obama said the decision is not a judgment on the merits of the proposed pipeline. It is on what the president called the arbitrary nature of a 60-day deadline imposed by congressional Republicans. Obama says that deadline prevents a full assessment of the environmental, health and safety impact of the more-than-2,700-kilometer project. That’s about 1,675 miles.
White House Spokesman Jay Carney said the congressional deadline left the Obama administration no choice but to deny the pipeline application. “Sixty days is simply not enough time,” he said. “We don’t even have an alternate route identified yet, so how could anyone possibly review it thoroughly, in the manner that is expected in this process?”
John Boehner, the speaker of the House of Representatives and a Republican said the president was authorized to block the project only if he believed it was not in the country’s national interest. Speaking on Capitol Hill, Boehner asked, “Is it not in the national interest to create tens of thousands of jobs here in America with private investment?”
“Is it not in the national interest to get energy resources from an ally like Canada as opposed to some countries in the Middle East? The president had said he will do anything that he can to create jobs. Today that promise was broken,” he said.
Boehner said the decision shows the president is more concerned about politics than about creating jobs because approving the plan might have alienated Obama’s supporters in U.S. environmental groups.
The leading Republican presidential contender, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, issued a written statement saying that the president’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline is “as shocking as it is revealing.”