Thursday afternoon, the White House released the following statement from President Obama regarding the State Department's earlier announcement that it will delay a decision about permits for the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline while explores the possibility of a new route for the Canada/U.S. pipeline.
I support the State Department's announcement today regarding the need to seek additional information about the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal. Because this permit decision could affect the health and safety of the American people as well as the environment, and because a number of concerns have been raised through a public process, we should take the time to ensure that all questions are properly addressed and all the potential impacts are properly understood. The final decision should be guided by an open, transparent process that is informed by the best available science and the voices of the American people. At the same time, my administration will build on the unprecedented progress we’ve made towards strengthening our nation’s energy security, from responsibly expanding domestic oil and gas production to nearly doubling the fuel efficiency of our cars and trucks, to continued progress in the development of a clean energy economy.
The State Department today announced plans to explore a new route for the Keystone XL pipeline, putting off the decision on whether to approve the controversial project until after the 2012 election.
The decision marks a partial victory for environmentalists and other opponents of the TransCanada Corp. project, which would link the tar sands fields of northern Alberta to oil refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. The 1,700-mile underground oil pipeline has been in the works for three years. Its supporters say it would create jobs and help the U.S. lessen its dependence on oil imported from the Middle East, while its opponents -- both Democratic and Republican -- point to its environmental risks.
The State Department has jurisdiction over the project since it crosses U.S. borders, and the agency was widely expected to recommend approving the pipeline by the end of the year. With that self-imposed timetable fast approaching, activists have ratcheted up the pressure on the Obama administration to reject the project. Thousands of protesters circled the White House earlier this month to protest the pipeline.