Obama Blames Republicans, Hides Behind His Own State Dep't, in Rejecting Keystone Pipeline

Fred Lucas | January 19, 2012 | 6:38am EST
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White House Press Secretary Jay Carney speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama, in formally denying a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline that was projected to create thousand of new jobs, blamed Republicans for forcing his hand. He also indicated that in making the politically difficult decision, he is simply going along with the recommendation of his secretary of state.

In his written statement explaining the decision, Obama mentioned the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or the State Department four times in the opening paragraph -- and once again in the second and final paragraph.

“Earlier today, I received the Secretary of State’s recommendation on the pending application for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline,” Obama wrote. “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.”

The State Department has been studying TransCanada’s application for a permit to extend its oil pipeline from Alberta, Canada to refineries in the Gulf Coast for three years. It was expected to make a decision by the end of last year, but in November, it said the decision would not come until 2013 – after the 2012 election.

The State Department said it needed more time to "undertake an in-depth assessment of potential alternative routes in Nebraska."

The pipeline project is supported by labor unions, a key Obama constituency, but it is strongly opposed by environmental activists, another important constituency.

Republicans in Congress, as part of their deal to support an extension of the payroll tax holiday, imposed a new deadline of Feb. 21 for the Obama administration to make a decision on the Keystone XL project.

In his written statement on Wednesday, Obama said his decision to refuse a permit was “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.

“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.”

House Speaker John Boehner, at a press conference Wednesday, said this is a purely political decision from the president:

“President Obama is destroying tens of thousands of American jobs and shipping American energy security to the Chinese. There’s really – there’s no other way to put it: the President is selling out American jobs for politics,” Boehner said.

“The President was given the authority to block this project only – and only – if he believes it’s not in the national interest of the United States. 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?”

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