The Obama administration continues to delay Keystone XL

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

President Barack Obama has not officially come out against the Keystone XL pipeline, but the final decision could be pushed back into 2014.

For more than 1,800 days, the Obama administration has been analyzing whether the Keystone pipeline is in the national interest. The Department of State’s review of the pipeline found that it would create more than 42,000 jobs and not significantly impact global warming or the environment.

But that seems to be an outlier view within the Obama administration. Soon after the State Department released its review, the Environmental Protection Agency attacked it and said it needed to take a deeper look into the pipeline’s environmental and climate impacts.

More recently, the Department of Interior criticized the State Department’s review of Keystone, saying the project could harm wildlife along its proposed route.

“Given that the project includes not only constructing a pipeline but also related infrastructure, access roads, and power lines and substations, impacts to wildlife are not just related to project construction,” read the Interior comments on the pipeline review.
“Impacts to wildlife from this infrastructure will occur throughout the life of the project (i.e. operation and maintenance phases).”

“They were just trying to raise new hurdles,” Dan Simmons, director of regulatory and state affairs at the pro-pipeline Institute for Energy Research, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The Interior Department, as steward of the nation’s federal land, is unfortunately anti-energy and you see that in these comments.”

Now the State Department’s inspector general said last week that it won’t be able to complete its review of allegations into conflict of interest charges until next year. Environmentalists are claiming the contractor used by the department to do the Keystone review had ties to the oil industry.

“They’re being quite creative, using every tactic they can to continue to delay and stall the pipeline,” Simmons added.

“They’ve had it for more than 1,800 days, they’ve been trying to example one simple thing — is the pipeline in the national interest?” Simmons said. “The fact that they can’t figure that out after 1,800 days means that they’re intentionally stalling.”

Obama himself has also downplayed the economic benefits of the pipeline, after promising to only support it if it did not significantly add to carbon dioxide emissions.

“Any reporter who is looking at the facts would take the time to confirm that the most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline — which might take a year or two — and then after that we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs in a economy of 150 million working people,” Obama said.

Fact checkers called Obama’s jobs claims “false” because he did not back up his numbers and ignored his own State Department’s jobs estimates.

“Obama said the Keystone XL pipeline might produce about 2,000 jobs during construction, based on the most reliable estimates,” Politifact said. “The White House provided no supporting evidence and the administration’s own State Department predicted that while the pipeline would produce few permanent jobs, the construction process itself would create nearly twice as many jobs as the president said. We rate the statement False.”

It’s not clear that the IG’s review will necessarily hold up the pipeline’s approval, reports the Hill newspaper.

Environmentalists, however, are asking for such a delay.

“[I]t would be improper for the State Department to issue a Final Environmental Impact Statement before its Inspector General completes an inquiry into the integrity of the process,” said Danielle Droitsch, director of Natural Resource Defense Council’s Canada program.

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