TransCanada, the company trying to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline, asked the Obama administration to suspend the project’s application after seven years of waiting for the president’s approval.
TransCanada’s move comes amid reports President Barack Obama will reject Keystone’s application and after Canada’s liberal party made huge gains in last month’s election. Republican lawmakers blamed Obama for TransCanada’s decision to suspend Keystone’s application.
“Instead of saying yes to jobs and North American energy security, the administration continues to say no by its failure to make a decision on approving the Keystone XL Pipeline until it becomes someone else’s problem or until those who are attempting to invest in new American jobs simply give up,” Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said in a statement.
The company is also likely trying to avoid political controversy during the U.S. elections — all Democratic presidential candidates oppose the project.
All Republican candidates, on the other hand, support building the pipeline. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s campaign even put out a video criticizing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for waiting for the politically opportune time to come out against Keystone XL.
Keystone XL has fallen prey to politics over the last seven years, serving as a rallying call against the oil industry for environmentalists and a symbol of American energy independence to its supporters.
Republicans and energy state Democrats passed legislation earlier this year to approve Keystone XL, which would carry oil sands from Alberta to U.S. refineries near the Gulf Coast. But Obama vetoed the bill, arguing it circumvented the State Department’s regulatory process for international pipelines.
“With bipartisan support for the pipeline growing, it’s clear that the administration is more interested in politics than American jobs,” Murkowski said.
Obama’s veto likely had more to do with environmentalist pressure than State Department hang ups. Activists argue the project will exacerbate global warming and lead to oil spills along its route. Eco-groups have spent millions opposing the project and backing Democratic lawmakers wanting its application to be denied.
“This is a victory for the farmers, Indigenous Peoples and environmentalists that banded together to stand up to big oil,” Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth, said in a statement. “Killing the pipeline once and for all is the only fair thing Obama could do for the sake of the climate and the people along the route, whose lives would be impacted by this project.”
The State Department’s own review of the project, however, found Keystone XL would not impact global warming or the environment. The department argued that oil sands would be extracted with or without the pipeline.
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