The Obama Administration rejected the Keystone XL pipeline on Wednesday, saying the deadline imposed by Congress did not leave sufficient time to conduct the necessary review.
"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," President Obama said in a statement. "I'm disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision."
TransCanada Corp’s proposal to build a 1,700-mile Canada-to-Texas pipeline may not be dead, however. The State Department said the denial does not “preclude any subsequent applications.”
TransCanada’s CEO Russ Girling said in a statement, “TransCanada remains fully committed to construction of Keystone XL. Plans are already underway on a number of fronts to largely maintain the construction schedule of the project.”
Last November the Obama Administration delayed a decision on a presidential permit for the project until 2013. But lawmakers that support the project attached a measure to a tax-cut law passed at the end of last year that set a February deadline for a decision.
The Keystone XL pipeline has been a controversial issue. Environmental groups are concerned about carbon emissions from oil sands production and possible leaks along the pipeline.
Supporters of the project, including the oil industry, some unions and many Republican lawmakers, say it’s an important job creator that will lessen America’s dependence on oil imported from the Middle East.
Environmental groups called Wednesday’s announcement a victory.
“President Obama put the health and safety of the American people and our air, lands and water – our national interest – above the interests of the oil industry,” Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. “His decision represents a triumph of truth over Big Oil’s bullying tactics and its disinformation campaign with wildly exaggerated jobs claims.”
Those who support the pipeline, however, were unhappy.
House Speaker John Boehner says President Obama is breaking his promise to create jobs by rejecting a plan to build the pipeline.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Thomas Donohue said in a statement, “This political decision offers hard evidence that creating jobs is not a high priority for this administration. The President’s decision sends a strong message to the business community and to investors: keep your money on the sidelines, America is not open for business.”