Reports surfaced Wednesday afternoon that President Barack Obama would announce his opposition to the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
The Washington Post first reported that the administration planned to announce Wednesday afternoon that they would reject the application from TransCanada to build and operate a large oil pipeline across the U.S.-Canada border. A source familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that the rejection will likely come from the State Department which has been charged with reviewing the project, and a joint statement will come from some of the larger unions and environmental groups in support of the decision.
The Post notes that the administration is willing to allow TransCanada to reapply if it develops an alternate route through the sensitive habitat of Nebraska's Sandhills.
Officials in the House Speaker's office tell CNN that they have not yet been informed of the White House's decision, but Speaker Boehner said today in regards to anticipation of the decision, "This is not good for our country. The president wants to put this off until it's convenient for him to make a decision. That means after the next election. The fact is the American people are asking the question right now, 'Where are the jobs?'"
Bloomberg reports that labor unions and Republicans supported the pipeline, which would carry 700,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Canada’s Alberta oil sands to refineries along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast. The coalition argued that the pipeline would create jobs and help the nation become more energy independent.
Environmentalists have opposed the project, saying it will contribute to greenhouse-gas emissions and endanger drinking water supplies in Nebraska.
There was much debate about the pipeline at the end of last legislative session when Republicans attached a clause to the payroll tax cut extension during negotiations that pressured the administration to make a decision on the pipeline permit within 60 days.
The White House had originally tried to push the decision back until after the coming presidential election.
Update (5:35 p.m.)
President Obama released a statement Wednesday declaring that a February deadline set by Congress would not allow for a proper review of potential harm from the $7 billion Keystone XL project.
"As the State Department made clear last month, the rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline's impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment," Obama said in the statement.
"As a result, the Secretary of State has recommended that the application be denied. And after reviewing the State Department’s report, I agree. "
Speaker of the House John Boehner and a group of congressional Republicans held a press event Wednesday condemning the president's decision, and accusing him of breaking his promise to create jobs:
AP reports that Newt Gingrich, campaigning for the GOP presidential nomination in South Carolina, called Obama's decision "stunningly stupid," adding: "What Obama has done is kill jobs, weaken American security and drive Canada into the arms of China out of just sheer stupidity."
Mitt Romney called Obama's decision "as shocking as it is revealing," adding that it "shows a president who once again has put politics ahead of sound policy."
Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer, told AP that the company plans to comply with the State Department's suggestion to submit a new application once a route through environmentally sensitive areas of Nebraska is established. If approved, the pipeline could begin operation as soon as 2014, Girling said.