President blames Republicans for pipeline demise
House Republicans returned from their winter break last Tuesday with a message for President Barack Obama: Stop delaying the Keystone XL pipeline. But by Wednesday, Obama had made his decision, 34 days before his final deadline, to reject the pipeline.
Obama passed the blame on to Republican opponents for forcing a deadline.
“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,” Obama said in a statement. “I’m disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision.”
The decision comes on the heels of a bill introduced by Sen. John Hoeven, R-ND, that would have moved the permit forward with Obama’s decision. The bill would have shut the White House out of the decision-making process around Keystone, leaving Congress full authority to issue pipeline approval, which would stretch an estimated 1,700 miles from tar sands in Canada to oil refineries along the Gulf Coast.
But, according to media re ports, the administration will allow the firm to reapply if it can reroute the portion of the line currently planned to go through Nebraska’s Sandhills.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said the move is “as shocking as it is revealing.”
“It shows a president who once again has put politics ahead of sound policy,” Romney told reporters. “If Americans want to understand why unemployment in the United States has been stuck above 8 percent for the longest stretch since the Great Depression, decisions like this one are the place to begin.”
The much anticipated decision has been in the political spotlight for months.
“He seems to have confused the national interest with his own interest in pleasing the environmentalists in his political base,” Romney said.
Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich (Georgia) told the Los Angeles Times that the administration’s decision was a “stunningly stupid thing to do.”
“There’s no better word,” Gingrich said at an event in Warrensville, SC, according to the Times. “These people are so out of touch with reality, it’s as if they were governing Mars.”
Rep. Lee Terry, R-NE, said on the House floor Tuesday night, prior to the announcement, that in December, the administration claimed it had all the information it needed to decide on the oil pipeline, and that it was “working diligently” toward a decision before the end of 2011. But Terry said officials then argued that they needed more information, and were worried that Republicans were forcing the decision.
“Bull,” Terry said. “This is all politics. Stop playing politics, Mr. President, and put us on a road that we can be energy independent.”
Terry was joined by several other Republicans Tuesday night, including Rep. Steve Scalise, R- LA, who argued that to delay the Keystone pipeline was to delay the creation of thousands of U.S. jobs.
“What does President Obama have against creating 20,000 American jobs?” he asked.
Congress last year approved legislation that included language requiring the administration to make a final decision on the Key stone
XL pipeline by Feb. 21. Under the law, the administration can only delay the decision by certifying that approving the permit is not in the public interest.
TransCanada, the company planning to build the pipeline, immediately announced last Wednesday the company will resubmit its permit application. — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor