Obama Still Wants to Deal With Keystone XL Before He Leaves Office

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Environmental activists inflate a long balloon to mock a pipeline during a demonstration in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on February 3, 2014 to protest against the Keystone pipeline project.
Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Although TransCanada, the Canadian company that wants to build the Keystone XL pipeline, asked the State Department on Monday to stop reviewing the project until Nebraska finishes its own review of it— a move that would have absolved Obama of reaching a verdict on the loaded issue, instead leaving it for his TBD successor to deal with — the White House is still determined to be done with this drama ASAP.

Given how long it’s taken, it seems unusual to me to suggest that somehow it should be paused yet again,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Tuesday. Despite the request, which the State Department is considering, “the current plan” is still to have Obama make a decision on the pipeline, banishing it evermore from 2016 presidential platforms and allowing him to brag Boehner-style that he cleaned the dirty barn of you-know-what, at least on this issue. While GOP candidates have been very supportive of the pipeline, bashing the White House for the seven-year-long wait on a permit decision, the Democratic presidential candidates all oppose it. 

TransCanada CEO Russ Girling said on Tuesday that asking the State Department for a delay did not mean that the company was crossing its fingers and hoping a Republican would be in the White House in 2017. “We’ve tried to stay out of the politics of this situation and focus on the things we’re capable of doing,” he insisted

Earnest countered on Tuesday by saying that “there’s probably no infrastructure project in the history of the United States that’s been as politicized as this one, although I wasn’t around for the intercontinental railroad. Maybe there were some partisan politics associated with that.”

As the Associated Press notes, 2,601 days have passed since the pipeline was first proposed. 

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