Kerri-Ann Jones, State
Department: Permit Denied for Keystone XL Oil
Pipeline from Canada
January 19, 2012
The Obama administration on Wednesday denied a permit for a new oil
pipeline from Canada because it says congressional Republicans did not
give the administration enough time to determine the project's impact on
public safety and the environment. The president's political opponents
say the move shows he is not serious about creating jobs.
The State Department recommended that President Obama reject the
application for a new crude oil pipeline from Canada's tar sands region
to Texas refineries because of concerns about the proposed route through
areas of the state of Nebraska that State Department officials say they
did not have sufficient time to consider.
In a written statement from the White House, President Obama said the
decision is not a judgment on the merits of the proposed pipeline. It is
on what the president called the “arbitrary nature” of a 60-day deadline
imposed by congressional Republicans. Mr. Obama says that deadline
prevents a full assessment of the environmental, health and safety
impact of the more-than-2,700-kilometer project.
White House Spokesman Jay Carney said the congressional deadline left
the Obama administration no choice but to deny the pipeline application.
"Sixty days is simply not enough time," he said. "We don't even have an
alternate route identified yet, so how could anyone possibly review it
thoroughly, in the manner that is expected in this process?"
House of Representatives Speaker, Republican John Boehner said the
president was authorized to block the project only if he believed it was
not in the country's national interest. Speaking on Capitol Hill,
Boehner asked, “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? The
president had said he will do anything that he can to create jobs. Today
that promise was broken," he said.
Boehner said the decision shows the president is more concerned about
politics than about creating jobs because approving the plan might have
alienated Mr. Obama's supporters in U.S. environmental groups. "The
president won't stand up to his political base, even in the name of
creating American jobs. And now, Canada is going to have to look to
other nations, like China, to sell its oil reserves to. Listen, the
president's policies are making the American economy worse, rather than
better," he said.
Boehner said Republicans in Congress will continue to push for the
pipeline because it is good for the economy and it is good for
Americans, especially those who are looking for work. It is also good
for the president's political opponents in an election year, when the
economy is the to priority for most voters.
The leading Republican presidential contender, former Massachusetts
Governor Mitt Romney, issued a written statement saying that the
president's decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline is “as shocking
as it is revealing.” Romney said Mr. Obama has “once again put politics
ahead of sound policy” and is demonstrating what the presidential
hopeful called “a lack of seriousness about bringing down unemployment,
restoring economic growth, and achieving energy independence.”
The State Department says its denial of the permit application does not
preclude any subsequent permit application or applications for similar
Jones is an Assistant Secretary in the State Department Bureau of Oceans
and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. In a telephone
conference call with reporters, Jones said the decision was based not on
politics, but on concerns expressed last November that officials needed
more time to gather more information about the project. "This is a
process decision that we made based on the decision that we made on
November 10 and the information that we felt we needed to really inform
our decision to make sure we really had everything we needed to do the
best in terms of looking at this pipeline and determining whether or not
it was in the national interest," she said.
Asked what part energy independence plays in determining the national
interest of pipeline projects, Jones said the Obama administration is
working to reduce reliance on foreign oil. "This decision today doesn't
make our commitment to energy independence and energy security any less
of a priority. It is a major priority for our country. We are making
this decision because [in] the process, we did not have the information
we need to make the decision that we thought would be well informed,"
Pipeline applicant TransCanada is considering another proposal that
would reroute the pipeline around aquifers in Nebraska's Sandhills
region. Jones said she could not give a timeline for how long a review
of a new application might take.