WASHINGTON, D.C. (MCT) — The Obama administration has denied a permit for the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada, asserting that it did not “have sufficient time to obtain the information necessary to assess whether the project, in its current state, is in the national interest,” the State Department announced Wednesday.
The decision is sure to prolong a bitter political fight that has raged for months over the pipeline’s fate.
For Republicans, the oil industry and the Chamber of Commerce, Keystone has become a one-word campaign slogan: synonymous with many of the themes of government regulatory overreach they have tried over the course of the year to pin on President Barack Obama.
For environmentalists and others in the Democratic base, the administration’s decision to deny the permit reflects a resolve and a willingness to stand up to big business they have long asked Obama to show.
The announcement, which does not preclude the pipeline company from reapplying, comes in response to a 60-day deadline Congress imposed in late December on the decision-making process for the permit as part of a deal to extend a payroll-tax break and unemployment benefits for two months.
Wednesday’s decision makes official what the administration has said from the outset: that under current law, it cannot accelerate the permitting process, especially in light of the need for additional environmental reviews of a new path for the pipeline through Nebraska.