The State Department will grant federal agencies an indefinite amount of time to review the Keystone XL pipeline, officials said Friday, allowing the Obama administration to avoid the issue entirely until after the fall midterm elections.
“This delay is shameful," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement Friday. “With … our allies in Eastern Europe looking for energy leadership from America, it’s clear there is little this administration isn’t willing to sacrifice for politics."
"This job-creating project has cleared every environmental hurdle and overwhelmingly passed the test of public opinion, yet it’s been blocked for more than 2,000 days,” he said. “And if we’ve learned anything from the events in Ukraine, it’s that energy security sends signals across borders, and nations in the region hoping for greater American energy exports will no doubt take notice of this egregious decision.”
Boehner said the Republican-controlled Congress will continue its efforts to persuade President Barack Obama to approve the project.
The decision to delay the Keystone pipeline stems from a Nebraska judge’s recent decision to overturn a state law that allowed the project to run through the state, the State Department said.
Federal officials said the judge’s decision raised concerns about the pipeline and created uncertainty.
"The agency consultation process is not starting over. The process is ongoing, and the department and relevant agencies are actively continuing their work in assessing the permit application," the State Department said in a statement.
"The permit process will conclude once factors that have a significant impact on determining the national interest of the proposed project have been evaluated and appropriately reflected in the decision documents," the statement added, avoiding any mention of a specific deadline. "The Department will give the agencies sufficient time to submit their views."
But not everyone on the left side of the aisle is thrilled with the White House’s indefinite delay.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), a vulnerable lawmaker who’s up for re-election this fall in a state that would benefit greatly from the pipeline, said the delay is “unacceptable.”
"Today’s decision by the Administration amounts to nothing short of an indefinite delay of the Keystone Pipeline," Landrieu said Friday. "This decision is irresponsible, unnecessary and unacceptable."
The State Department has the authority to halt the project as the pipeline crosses the border between the United States and Canada.
"We are disappointed that politics continue to delay a decision on Keystone XL," said a spokesman for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Canadian company TransCanada first proposed the pipeline.
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