President Under Fire For Keystone Delay

Thousands of protesters demonstrated near the White House to oppose the planned Keystone XL pipeline.

President Obama has come under increasing criticism, largely from Republicans, for the decision to delay approval of a massive and controversial transnational pipeline.

More than 50, mostly Republican, members of the House sent the president a letter decrying his administration’s decision to put off a decision on the proposed 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

The Obama administration earlier this month pushed back action on the pipeline to 2013 at the earliest after a huge outpouring of opposition to the project. Thousands of protesters had converged on the White House to demontrate against it.

Because the project would cross the U.S. border, it requires a permit from the State Department.

Connie Mack (R-Fla.), along with 56 other members of the House, signed a letter recently demanding the president reconsider his decision to delay approval of the pipeline.

That letter followed earlier criticism from GOP House Speaker John Boehner, who opened fire against the delay after a meeting with the premier of Alberta to discuss the project.

“President Obama says ‘we can’t wait’ to act on jobs,” Boehner says. “And yet that’s exactly what his decision on the Keystone energy project has out-of-work Americans doing: waiting.”

However, opponents cite potentially great environmental harm from the pipeline, particularly in a key aquifer along its planned route through Nebraska.

The process by which the administration had been considering Keystone also became a flashpoint due to the influence of corporate lobbying.

Paul Elliott, who worked on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, actively lobbied the State Department and Congress about the project for a year and a half before he officially registered as a lobbyist, according to State Department email messages which later were made public.

(Read a complete explainer of the Keystone XL pipeline, and its controversies, online here.)

In fact, the administration only agreed to delay consideration of the pipeline after a number of left-leaning lawmakers, particularly Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), asked the independent inspector general of the State Department to investigate the matter. Sanders and others asked Obama to hold off any decision on Keystone until the probe was complete.


Scott Nance is the editor and publisher of the news site The Washington Current. He has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.

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