Carney on Keystone: ‘We Haven’t Rejected Anything’

Matt Cover | August 24, 2012 | 3:48pm EDT
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White House Press Secretary Jay Carney presides at the daily news briefing at the White House on May 3, 2011. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

( – White House Spokesman Jay Carney said that the Obama administration had not “rejected” the Keystone pipeline, despite the fact that the president did, in fact, cancel the project after congressional Republicans forced him to make a decision.

“First of all, the Keystone Pipeline is a process. We haven’t rejected anything,” Carney told reporters Thursday.

Carney had been asked by ABC News’ Jake Tapper why the White House used the term ‘all-of-the-above’ to describe its energy policy when it had rejected Republican ideas like Keystone.

“It’s a process that is underway at the State Department that was delayed because – for two reasons – one because of concern by folks in Nebraska including the Republican governor about the original proposed route and then because of Congress’ [and] House Republicans’ insistence on including it as part of the payroll tax cut extension,” Carney continued.

However, the White House did reject the Keystone Pipeline in January, formally denying the application of TransCanada – the company hoping to build the pipeline – to begin work on the project. Federal permission was needed because the pipeline crossed national boundaries – running from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

“As the State Department made clear last month, the rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment.

“As a result, the Secretary of State has recommended that the application be denied. And after reviewing the State Department’s report, I agree,” Obama said on Jan. 18.

The administration had announced in November 2011 that it would delay the pipeline indefinitely while it completed a second environmental impact study. Republicans then sought to force the president to make a decision on the pipeline by attaching a deadline to a bill extending Obama’s payroll tax cuts.

Republicans charged that a second environmental study was unnecessary, given that an exhaustive study had already been conducted, accusing the president of bowing to political pressure from left-wing environmentalists who opposed the pipeline under any circumstances.

At the time, Carney himself made clear that the president would reject the pipeline if Republicans forced him to act.

“I think the president’s language was pretty clear about what he would accept and what he would reject,” Carney told reporters on Dec. 9, 2011.

“Reject means reject,” Carney said. “He thinks it’s rejection-worthy.”

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