The US Department of State recommended today to President Obama that the presidential permit for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline be denied and, that at this time, the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline be determined not to serve the national interest. The President concurred with the Department’s recommendation, which 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 Department’s denial of the permit application does not preclude any subsequent permit application or applications for similar projects. The proposed pipeline was to carry oil sands crude from Canada to the US Gulf Coast.
This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people. I’m disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision, but it does not change my Administration’s commitment to American-made energy that creates jobs and reduces our dependence on oil. Under my Administration, domestic oil and natural gas production is up, while imports of foreign oil are down.
In the months ahead, we will continue to look for new ways to partner with the oil and gas industry to increase our energy security—including the potential development of an oil pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf of Mexico—even as we set higher efficiency standards for cars and trucks and invest in alternatives like biofuels and natural gas. And we will do so in a way that benefits American workers and businesses without risking the health and safety of the American people and the environment.—President Obama
As a result of the review process of TransCanada’s permit application for the Keystone XL Pipeline particularly given the concentration of concerns regarding the proposed route through the Sand Hills area of Nebraska, the Department announced on 10 November that it could not make a national interest determination regarding the permit application without additional information. (Earlier post.)
Specifically, 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. In consultations with the State of Nebraska and TransCanada, they agreed with the estimated timeline, according to the Department.
On 23 December 2011, the Congress passed the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011 (“the Act”). The Act provides 60 days for the President to determine whether the Keystone XL pipeline is in the national interest—which is insufficient for such a determination.