In a press briefing on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney made clear that President Obama would veto a GOP-proposed payroll tax if it included a provision to accelerate the timeline of the Keystone XL pipeline.
A project of TransCanada the Keystone XL pipeline was intended to travel 1,700-kilometers from Alberta’s oil sands to the Gulf Coast in Texas to transport 700,000 barrels of oil a day. Much of the pipeline is already lying on the ground in North Dakota, waiting to be constructed. But this November, Obama delayed a decision on construction of the pipeline, pending further review and delaying it till after the 2012 presidential elections.
In the press briefing, the Keystone pipeline became a key issue in an unrelated political battle between Republicans and Democrats. Carney said:
“I think it’s worth pointing out that on the Keystone issue, which they [the Republicans] have attached as one of these extraneous, ideological issues to the payroll tax cut extension, the State Department, which is conducting the review, has made clear that it would be absolutely counterproductive to the stated goal of those who insist on having the provision in the bill because it would not allow the State Department the time it needs to properly review alternative routes. Therefore, they would have to say no.
So if that’s their objective, it’s a strange way of going about it. The process needs to be done responsibly. The delay in the review was brought about because of concerns by folks in Nebraska, including the Republican governor. The desire to search for an alternate route — that is now happening. But it’s a process that needs to be done in the way that it has always been done, which takes time. And that requires careful consideration of all the criteria that the President has made clear are important to this decision. And to insert as a political objective a provision like this that would try to speed up the process would only result in its — in the State Department — based on my reading of their statement — in the State Department having to say, given no other course, having to say no.
Read the interview in its entirety here.