Science, Tech & Environment

Obama administration rejects permit for Keystone XL Pipeline

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The proposed Keystone XL extensions (red) to the existing Keystone pipeline (purple) was denied. The Obama administration cited concerns about its impact on Nebraska's Sand Hills. It would run near the Ogallala aquifer, pictured.

Bowing to pressure from environmentalists and forced into action by Congress, the administration of President Barack Obama blocked the Keystone XL pipeline from moving forward.

In a statement released by the State Department, officials said that Obama should declare the "TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline be determined not to serve the national interest." Obama concurred with the recommendation from the State Department, the statement said. Though, in a bit of political theater, the statement laid blame for the denial on Congressional leaders who insisted Obama act immediately, when the administration had hoped to have more time to review the proposal.

"(The denial) was predicated on the fact that the Department does not have sufficient time to obtain the information necessary to assess whether the project, in its current state, is in the national interest," the statement read.

Many politicians concluded that Obama wanted to delay acceptance or rejection of the proposal until after the November elections, because it pits two of his staunchest sets of supporters against each other: environmentalists versus organized labor.

"The Department called for an assessment of alternative pipeline routes that avoided the uniquely sensitive terrain of the Sand Hills in Nebraska. The Department estimated, based on prior projects of similar length and scope, that it could complete the necessary review to make a decision by the first quarter of 2013," the statement said.

The denial, though, left an opening for the project to go forward. It said it was willing to consider a new application for the same project or for a similar project — applications that would presumably give them more time to consider the various factors weighing on the decision.

Republicans were quick to lash out at Obama for rejecting the program, which had been expected to create thousands of jobs.

“President Obama is about to destroy tens of thousands of American jobs and sell American energy security to the Chinese,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. “The president won’t stand up to his political base even to create American jobs. This is not the end of this fight.”

A spokesman for TransCanada declined to comment to The New York Times.

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