Under fire from Republicans over high gas prices, President Barack Obama on Monday cheered news that the Canadian company hoping to build the Keystone XL Pipeline to carry oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico would press ahead with a US-only segment of that controversial project.
"The president welcomes today's news," spokesman Jay Carney said. "We support the company's interest in proceeding with this project."
The southern segment would connect a storage hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, to refineries in Texas. Carney also signaled that Obama, who last month rejected a key permit for the entire Canada-to-U.S. pipeline, would approach a new application for the rest of the project with an open mind. Because the project spanned the two countries, it required approval of the State Department.
"TransCanada gave the State Department advance notice of its intention to submit a new application for the cross-border segment of the Keystone XL Pipeline, from Canada to Steele City, Nebraska, once a route through Nebraska has been identified," Carney said.
"House Republicans forced a rejection of the company's earlier application in January by not allowing sufficient time for important review or even the identification of a complete pipeline route," he added. "But as we made clear, the President's decision in January in no way prejudged future applications. We will ensure any project receives the important assessment it deserves, and will base a decision to provide a permit on the completion of that review."
House Republicans had forced the issue by giving Obama a 60-day deadline to approve the Keystone permit as part of a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut. The State Department, which has jurisdiction over whether to approve the pipeline, had stalled the project earlier amid environmental concerns.