Obama Administration Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline

The Obama Administration has halted, for the moment, a pipeline project that has become a political football.

The Obama Administration is rejecting the proposed route of a pipeline that would bring oil from Canada’s oil shale region to refineries and ports in the Southern United States:

WASHINGTON — The State Department was expected to announce later Wednesday that it cannot recommend going forward with the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline within the 60-day deadline set by Congress, putting the politically charged project on hold indefinitely, administration officials said.

The administration has until Feb. 21 to decide the fate of the 1,700-mile pipeline to carry heavy crude oil from formations in Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Officials are expected to announce that they cannot meet that deadline and that they are looking for ways to complete a thorough environmental review before making a final decision on the project.

The action for now means the permit for the pipeline is rejected although the pipeline company will be allowed to submit a new proposal with an altered route. The Obama administration had sought a year’s delay to find a new route for the pipeline. But Republicans in Congress demanded that the administration accelerate the schedule and make a decision by mid-February, and included that provision in the payroll tax bill passed last month.

The State Department is expected to say that routing, environmental and safety concerns raised by the project are too complex to be decided on that abbreviated timetable and is recommending that President Obama reject it for the time being.

The pipeline has become a political flashpoint, with proponents saying it will create thousands of jobs and help wean the nation off of Middle Eastern oil, while opponents charge that it furthers dependence on dirty fuels and threatens sensitive lands and water supplies in the Great Plains.

The White House spokesman, Jay Carney, at a briefing with reporters Wednesday before the State Department released its announcement, was sharply critical of the Republican-sponsored legislation that he said had forced a decision before the project could be fully studied.

“In a purely partisan effort to score a political points, Republicans in Congress insisted on inserting an extraneous provision in a bill that had nothing to do with pipelines,” he said. “The State Department has made it clear that setting an arbitrary deadline through this purely political effort would put State Department in a corner and severely hamper their ability to review an alternate route, a new pipeline route, in a proper way.”

Not surprisingly, Republicans are denouncing the move and vowing to continue putting pressure on the Administration to approve the project:

A spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner’ put out a response, based on news reports of the State Department’s recommendation, reminding everyone that the language in the payroll tax bill stipulates that only the president has authority to block the permit — not the State Department.

“President Obama is about to destroy tens of thousands of American jobs and sell American energy security to the Chinese,” said Brendan Buck, Mr. Boehner’s spokesman. “The president won’t stand up to his political base even to create American jobs. This is not the end of this fight.”

The Republican presidential candidates have all endorsed the pipeline, saying it will create jobs, and have used it as a cudgel to criticize Mr. Obama. They say that his reluctance to quickly approve the project is harming the economy and forcing Canada to seek other markets for its oil.

“As to the pipeline,” former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts said at a recent campaign appearance in South Carolina, “how in the world can anyone justify saying to Canada: ‘We don’t want that pipeline coming here. We know it’s important for you to be able to make progress and provide for your own finances. We know that if we stall long enough, you’ll not have the opportunity to bring a pipeline to America. Instead you’ll build a pipeline for China.’ “

I noted back in December that the House Republicans may have made a big mistake in insisting that the temporary extension of the Payroll Tax cut include a provision requiring the Administration to make a decision on the pipeline now rather than waiting until 2013 as had been the plan. State Department officials said at the time that the deadline set by Congress did not provide sufficient time for the studies that are required by law to be completed before a decision can be made. Accordingly, the deadline may have inadvertently created the situation where the Administration had no choice but to veto the proposed route, which pipeline advocates have said they would be willing to reconsider given the objections that have been noted in states along the route even by politicians who favor the pipeline.

Moreover, one pipeline advocate warned that by appearing to back the President into a corner, the House Republicans were basically daring the President to reject the plan:

Some political observers said the effort by Congress to pressure the president into making a quick decision might have backfired. Last week, John Engler, a former Michigan governor who is now head of the Business Roundtable, said “no chief executive likes to be painted into a corner by anybody, whether another nation or a legislative body. There are a couple of ways to react, and one of them is a negative way.” Engler and the Business Roundtable support the pipeline project.

In the press release announcing the decision just this afternoon, the State Department cites a number of factors for the rejection, but states that a revised route could be considered in the future:

Today, the Department of State recommended to President Obama that the presidential permit for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline be denied and, that at this time, the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline be determined not to serve the national interest. The President concurred with the Department’s recommendation, which was predicated on the fact that the Department does not have sufficient time to obtain the information necessary to assess whether the project, in its current state, is in the national interest.

Since 2008, the Department has been conducting a transparent, thorough, and rigorous review of TransCanada’s permit application for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project. As a result of this process, particularly given the concentration of concerns regarding the proposed route through the Sand Hills area of Nebraska, on November 10, 2011, the Department announced that it could not make a national interest determination regarding the permit application without additional information. Specifically, the Department called for an assessment of alternative pipeline routes that avoided the uniquely sensitive terrain of the Sand Hills in Nebraska. The Department estimated, based on prior projects of similar length and scope, that it could complete the necessary review to make a decision by the first quarter of 2013. In consultations with the State of Nebraska and TransCanada, they agreed with the estimated timeline.

On December 23, 2011, the Congress passed the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011 (“the Act”). The Act provides 60 days for the President to determine whether the Keystone XL pipeline is in the national interest – which is insufficient for such a determination.

The Department’s denial of the permit application does not preclude any subsequent permit application or applications for similar projects.

Ironically, this announcement comes on the same day that the President’s own jobs council made some interesting recommendations:

President Obama’s jobs council called Tuesday for an “all-in approach” to energy policy that includes expanded oil-and-gas drilling as well as expediting energy projects like pipelines.

“[W]e should allow more access to oil, natural gas and coal opportunities on federal lands,” states the year-end report released Tuesday by the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

The report does not specifically mention the Keystone XL oil pipeline, but it endorses moving forward quickly with projects that “deliver electricity and fuel,” including pipelines.

“The Council recognizes the important safety and environmental concerns surrounding these types of projects, but now more than ever, the jobs and economic and energy security benefits of these energy projects require us to tackle the issues head-on and to expeditiously, though cautiously, move forward on projects that can support hundreds of thousands of jobs,” the report says.

The report retreats slightly from an interim report released in October that addressed the Keystone XL pipeline directly. The interim report appeared to offer cautious support for Keystone, calling on officials to “balance” environmental protections while realizing what it called the benefits of the pipeline.

But Keystone supporters will point out that the year-end report released Tuesday argues that energy projects like pipelines will result in economic and security benefits. It even echoes a common refrain from Republicans and the oil industry: that such energy projects “can support hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

This decision is not the end of the matter by any means. You can expect the House Republicans to try to make this an issue again in the upcoming negotiations over the permanent extension of the Payroll Tax cut as well as by other means. The Republican candidates for President will, no doubt, be united in their opposition to the President’s decision, and this is going to be an issue in the upcoming Presidential race. In reality, nearly all of the concerns that the State Department and pipeline opponents have voiced to this project can be easily addressed, including the question of whether the route of the pipeline itself poses a threat to underground aquifers. There’s no rational reason not to approve it, and I’ve to think that the Canadians are looking at this and just shaking their head in confusion over how stupid we Americans could possibly be to allow something so simple to get caught up in the idiotic world of partisan politics.

My prediction? Regardless of who is elected President in November, this project will be approved sooner rather than later.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Environment, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Blue Shark says:

    …From the map one can see that the pipeline traverses all red states.

    …So giving up political support in those states will cost the administration little compared to the environmental movement who have drawn a line in the sand with this polluting project.

    …maybe not a great way to make policy, but a terrific win for future generations as we move away from fossil fuels to green energy sources.

  2. Jay Dubbs says:

    I agree that this project will get completed. It also give the GOP an issue they can use as a bloody shirt, especially if oil prices head back up. (Not that it would make a difference.) I think the President’s likely response, I followed the advise of the State Department, after they were forced by the GOP to make a qu:ck decision, but don’t worry we are still evaluating the situation – will not calm those pre-disposed to making this a big deal, but then again nothing would.

    To the rest of us it just looks like another political football. And the GOP has again made Obama look statesman-like.

  3. Wait a sec … inadvertently?

    Why wouldn’t a Republican congress specifically request the Obama administration do the impossible, and then fail?

    As long as this bit remains burried int he body of texts …

    State Department officials said at the time that the deadline set by Congress did not provide sufficient time for the studies that are required by law to be completed before a decision can be made

  4. sam says:

    Here’s a thought … why don’t the folks up in The Hat build their own effing refineries?

  5. Hey Norm says:

    You wrote:

    “…The Obama Administration is rejecting the proposed route of a pipeline…”

    The article lede says:
    “…The State Department was expected to announce later Wednesday that it cannot recommend going forward with the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline within the 60-day deadline set by Congress…”
    One of these things is not like the other.

    I don’t have a dog in this fight…as long as environmental concerns are adequately addressed and not simply ignored for the benefit of the fossil fuel industry. But the reality is that the Administration gets to use the pipeline for leverage against an obstructionist Congress for a second time. Meep f’ing Meep.

  6. LCB says:

    Somewhere today I read that the State Dept. has had two or three years to “review” this pipeline. To say now that 60 days isn’t enough time to do the review is disingenuous at best.

  7. Dean says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the President sign the bill that set the 60-day deadline? I know many want to blame the Republicans for everything, but in this case don’t both have to take responsibility?

  8. Richard Gardner says:

    CNBC had T. Boone Pickens on just after the announcement, the legendary oil and energy-man. He is a big supporter of wind power and the use of natural gas to power semi-trucks (CLNE). In his candid words, “We’re complete fools….”

    “We treat Canada as if it’s a secondary state of the United States,” Pickens said. “Canada is a sovereign country, and they have told you you either take the pipeline, we’ll make the oil available to you or we’re going west to British Columbia and they’ll export the oil to China.”

    He also said,
    “We can kiss another chance at energy security goodbye. We must really like OPEC”

    Unfortunately we can’t harvest any energy from politicians’ hot air.

  9. Tlaloc says:

    Here’s a thought … why don’t the folks up in The Hat build their own effing refineries

    We let Texas have them for a reason. Same reason we put nuclear waste in Nevada.

  10. PD Shaw says:

    These stories tend to confuse me because the pipeline is already pumping oil to the refineries in Illinois, which has gave rise to construction/scaffolding jobs. And I think its already in the process of extending to the Gulf. The Wikipedia (cache) makes it sound like the XL Pipeline is an expansion of these routes.

  11. Nikki says:

    Also, a lot of people assume the recalls during the summer were a bust, but I don’t see it that way.

    Doesn’t matter. The State department is required, BY LAW, to take 60 days to evaluate before they issue a decision. Not its fault it gave the White House the ability to back away from this issue before the election, as was originally intended. And, once again, the House Republicans look like fools and have no one to blame but themselves.

  12. Nikki says:

    Sorry, that should’ve been “to take more than 60 days”

  13. ponce says:

    I was neutral on this Koch Bros. boondoggle, but Obama canning it pisses off all the right people, so…well done Obama!

  14. JKB says:

    The pipeline has been in the approval process for 3 years. But suddenly, there were new studies that needed to be done.

    Well, if I was a Republican, I think I’d run the MSNBC Hoover dam commercial overlaid with these facts

    It took only 5 years to build Hoover dam

    Before they could start the dam proper they had to build Boulder City, 7 miles of asphalt road out to the dam, 22.7 miles of railroad from the main line in Las Vegas and a 222 mile power transmission line to power the construction.

    Then I’d go into the regulatory process for the pipeline and how it is often hijacked by the anti-human groups to stop progress.

    Oh, and I’d highlight that this isn’t the first pipeline to traverse the area Compare with the Keystone

  15. JKB says:

    Hey, Rachel, Obama has just said, we are not a country that can think that big.

    Fall Back – Obama 2012

  16. Would it be helped if I donated my vast personal fortune to the people of Calgary so that they can afford to move some place decent?

  17. Hey Norm says:

    @ JKB…
    Yes Hoover Dam only took 5 years to BUILD.
    It was 30 years in the making.
    From the History Channel site (as Wikipedia is down):

    “…Arthur Powell Davis, an engineer from the Bureau of Reclamation, originally had his vision for the Hoover Dam back in 1902, and his engineering report on the topic became the guiding document when plans were finally made to begin the dam in 1922…”

    Actual construction was started in 1930…a full eight years later.
    20,000 workers worked around the clock in order to finish it ahead of schedule.
    Buy a dog. Name it Clue. Then you will have one.

  18. PD Shaw says:

    @Hey Norm: So, the Panamal Canal was built 400 years in the making? A woman who begins picking out names for a child she might have some day can be pregnant for 32 years?

  19. JKB says:

    @Hey Norm:

    President Theodore Roosevelt signs the Reclamation Act. Reclamation engineers begin their long series of investigations and reports on control and use of the Colorado

    Colorado River Board of California reports favorably on feasibility of project. Boulder Canyon Project Act, introduced by Senator Johnson and Representative Swing, passes the Senate December 14th, the House December 18th, and is signed by President Calvin Coolidge, December 21st.

    Six of the seven Basin States approve Colorado River Compact. Boulder Canyon Project Act declared effective June 25th.

    Contracts for the sale of electrical energy to cover dam and power plant financing are completed.

    Bureau of Reclamation opens bids for the construction of Hoover Dam and Power Plant March 4, awards contract to Six Companies, March 11th, and gives contractor notice to proceed April 20th.

    River is diverted around the dam site, November 14th. Repayment contract for the construction of the All-American Canal is completed with Imperial Irrigation District.

    First concrete is placed June 6th.

    Dam starts impounding water in Lake Mead February 1st. Last concrete is placed in dam May 29th. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicates dam September 30th.

    First generator, N-2, goes into full operation October 26th. Second generator, N-4, goes into operations November 14th. Third generator, N-1, starts production December 28th.

    source US Bureau of Reclaimation

    So to me it looks like the regulatory process was a year from enactment by Congress to approval by 6 of the Compact states. TransCanada has already handled the feasibility and financing as well as the letting of contracts as their plan till the Obama gambit in November was to start work in first quarter 2012 and finish in 2013 based on a March promise by the Department of State to have a decision out by the end of 2011. Canada permitted the project in 2010.

  20. Ron Beasley says:

    @JKB: Keep in mind that the original proposal routed it through the Sandhills region where the aquifer that NE is depends is very close to the surface. It was the Republican Governor and Representatives that objected. At the moment there is no proposal for a new route so a new proposal with the new route will have to be submitted and studied which could not be done in within the time required. It was not so much the DFH that stopped the pipeline through the Sandhills it was the Republicans of NE. Much of the oil from the pipeline is going to be exported – even without it the Gulf refineries are exporting gasoline a diesel.

  21. Lomax says:

    Environmental maniacs seem to be in a dream world that we can just wave a magic wand and switch from gas to electricity, hydrogen, or solar powered cars. The working class people of this country depend on their cars to get to work, stores, and other necessary travel. We will need gas for the foreseeable future and at a fair price – not $4 or $5 a gallon.

  22. Hey Norm says:

    Your math is as confused as you are.
    @ Lomax…
    I’m an “environmental maniac” and I do not have a problem with the project, though I am sure it’s being oversold. I only want to make sure impacts are studied thoroughly. We already give away tons of cash to big oil. We do not need to pollute our aquifers for them. You are correct about a transition. Drill baby drill is not about transition.

  23. @Dean:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the President sign the bill that set the 60-day deadline? I know many want to blame the Republicans for everything, but in this case don’t both have to take responsibility?

    Remember, it was bound to the payroll tax reduction. He’d have to have thought this problem (later saying “uh, not now”) was so important that he’d throw the tax question back at congress.

  24. @Lomax:

    I’d also worry that in a free market you can’t just name a gasoline price you like. The sellers, and the other buyers (worldwide) have something to say about it.

    Remember, surprisingly high demand in Asia is cited as a strong cause of the last 5 years price increases.

    (We’re Americans damn it, and Canadians owe us cheap gas. lolz.)

  25. JKB says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    Would you rather have light, low environmental impact gasoline and diesel exported through the deep and wide open Gulf of Mexico or the thick, gooey crude exported down narrow, high traffic, Rosario Strait and the Straits of Juan de Fuca in to the story seas of the North Pacific?

  26. anjin-san says:

    We will need gas for the foreseeable future and at a fair price

    No problem. Just round up a few magic ponies and ride them back to 1972 when oil was plentiful and cheap, and you can have the inexpensive gas you seem to feel is your birthright.

    Until then, there are those of us who fell that making oil companies rich beyond the dreams of avarice is not a great reason to keep our economy hostage to 19th century technology.

  27. Dean says:

    @john personna:

    I agree with your comment John. My point was both sides were playing politics on the payroll tax and the Keystone pipeline. And yes, Congress and the President are going to have to wrestle with the payroll tax issue again in about 5 weeks.

  28. @Dean:

    Oh Kay … so what political goal did Obama and the Dems hang on the payroll tax reduction?

    If you say that was their “political” goal, to reduce tax and increase employment, it looks kind of bad for people who weren’t on board, doesn’t it?

    (In fact it’s kind of topsy-turvey world, where tax cuts are a Democratic political goal.)

  29. I’m glad one person got that reference:


  30. Richard Gardner says:

    On the Sandhills of Nebraska, the XL Pipeline has agreed to a route that will avoid them (though there are already a dozen pipelines already crossing them). I’m not talking about the Sandhills in the abstract, I’ve spent time in them (unlike most of the rest of you) and agree they should be protected. Nebraska is not flat! (I-80 is, following the Platte River). The Sandhills are unique, which is why Ted Turner is the largest landowner (can’t blame him). And it is the Ogallala Aquifer, and there have been portends of doom about it for the past 30 years.

    For JKB: I know where the Rosario Straight is and have transited it (He is referring to the refineries at Anacortes/Bellingham WA I think, not to forget the BC refineries). Straits of Juan de Fuca high traffic? Only if you include fishing boats. (yes, high risk of collision with salmon boats that drift into the VTS (ship freeway), but compared to Tokyo Won very low traffic). Admiralty Inlet is dangerous regardless of traffic.

  31. superdestroyer says:

    Progressives should entertain themselves by making a list of everything that the U.S. will no longer build, do, or create. There will not be another nuclear power plant, commercial ship, coal fired plant, dam, pipeline, or refinery built in the U.S. The U.S. has fallen so far that even building a pressure vessel in something that the U.S. no longer has the capability to do.

    My guess is that the idea of building a large factory in the U.S. will become so difficult that no one will loan a company the money to build the factory.

    One of the questions that progressives need to answer is what they plan on having everyone do with their college degrees after manufacturing ends in the U.S, retail collapses, and healthcare become a low paying career.

  32. @superdestroyer:

    Let me get this straight … if we care about the environment we can do nothing, and so we should not care?

    That’s kind of the ultimate straw man argument, with zero cost-benefit analysis.

  33. Richard Gardner says:

    Until then, there are those of us who fell that making oil companies rich beyond the dreams of avarice is not a great reason to keep our economy hostage to 19th century technology

    And who owns the oil companies? Pension funds, 401Ks, etc. EVIL pensioners.by your thought process {Vanguard and State Street are the holding companies for pension funds} . Look at the institutional and mutual fund holders.

  34. superdestroyer says:

    @Hey Norm:

    If someone proposed the Hoover Dam today, it would take at least 20 years to complete all of the environmental paperwork and would never get all the way through the process. The environmental laws are designed to prevent things from happening.

    Rachel Maddow knows this and knows that a large dam will never be built in the U.S. today. some of the metal parts used in Hoover Dam are no longer even built in the U.S. since the demand is so low and the regulatory burden is so immense.

    the only thing that the U.S. is good at these days is making bookkeeping entries and employing large number of cubicle dwellers.

  35. Ron Beasley says:

    @JKB: @JKB: I’d rather have nether but the reality is the Western pipeline will never be built – building a pipeline over two mountain ranges is just not cost effective, Transcanada knows that which is why they said today they will present a new proposal. I suspect the keystone pipeline will eventually be built just not through the Sandhills.

  36. Richard Gardner says:

    On the metal parts, the State of Washington decided to forgo Federal funds for the second Tacoma Narrows Bridge (2007) because it would have required “buy American.” Buying the bridge deck sections from Korea saved them well more than the 30% potential Federal contribution to the bridge (and the deck was maybe half the cost of the entire project?) Fact is, that type stuff just isn’t made in the USA today, and building the infrastructure for a single job is a waste of money.

    We’re lucky the bride even got built. Guess they didn’t find an endangered butt-licker tick.

  37. Ron Beasley says:

    @Hey Norm: Of course Hoover Dam was an economic stimulus package which the Republicans opposed then and would oppose now so it would never be built today.

  38. superdestroyer says:

    @john personna:

    There is true environmentalist and caring about the environment, there is Gaia worship, and then there is NIMBYism.

    In today’s world, NIMBYism and the Gaia worshiping Luddites will ensure that nothing happens in the future. Look at the faux concern over a pipeline affect on the Ogallala_Aquifer was laughable. There are many pipelines already running on top of an aquifer.

    Look at how progressives are arguing that the U.S. is so incompetent, so stupid, so incapable that we cannot even build a pipeline that will not leak. The progressives also argue that U.S. is so incompetent that we are not capable of building a refinery, a nuclear power plant, a waste repository,

    The real question for progressives is is there any industry that the U.S. has demonstrate enough competence that the U.S. should pursue it.

  39. superdestroyer says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    The progessive would form a Occupy the Colorado River program and would file dozens of lawsuits. When was the last time progressives actually supported something that was actually built. Look at how progressives keep supporting high-speed trains knowing that they will never be built.

  40. Davebo says:

    So let me get this straight…

    They want to build a pipeline from Canada to Houson/Port Arthur etc, an area with very little excess refining capacity and happens to be located very near some of the largest offshore fields in the world.

    Then we can either retrofit some existing refineries that again, have very little excess capacity as it is, to refine the less than sweet shale oil.

    Then what? Truck it to Colorado?

    Who came up with this idiotic idea? At least this is one inane energy decision that can’t be blamed on BP.

  41. anjin-san says:

    @ Richard Gardner

    I don’t think we should continue to allow our economy to remain hostage to 19th century technology to make money for pensioners either. The year is 2012. Either we deal with the century we are living in or China will eat our lunch.

    If we continue, as a society, to pretend that the ’73 oil shock and everything since that has told us fossil fuels are not the future never happened, we can look forward to becoming a second rate power. Why this appeals to conservatives is beyond me.

  42. Dean says:

    @john personna:

    You don’t believe that a 2-month extension rather than a full year extension wasn’t politics? The President signing the bill, blaming the Republicans for the delay, then rejecting a portion of a bill he signed wasn’t politics? Nice try.

  43. Ok, I´m a Brazilian. I don´t understand you, Americans. I don´t know why is necessary to CROSS the country to bring oil to refineries in a area vulnerable to hurricanes and that has no excess capacity instead of building a refinery near the border to Canada.

  44. Richard Gardner says:

    Andre, we do not understand it either.
    It is part of the peak oil religious belief.

    Minor issue – dilution is the solution to pollution.
    Better to put a refinery near the ocean than inland.

  45. anjin-san says:

    It is part of the peak oil religious belief.

    As opposed to the belief that there is enough oil to last forever and ever and ever. That sounds pretty rational.

  46. anjin-san says:

    Minor issue – dilution is the solution to pollution.

    Actually, it’s spreading the damage across a wider area. Why do you think the first thing they want to do when there is a spill is try to contain it with booms?

  47. OzarkHillbilly says:


    You don’t believe that a 2-month extension rather than a full year extension wasn’t politics?

    Of course it was politics. Smart politics. Obama got what he wanted with out having to give up anything. The House GOP just learned once again that he is way smarter than they are and, contrary to popular belief, pretty good at that negotiating thing too. He let them have “something” that he knew he could promptly take back, and in fact by law, would have to take back.

    Stupid is as stupid does…. Today’s House GOP.

    @Richard Gardner: The utter idiocy of that defies description.

  48. superdestroyer says:

    @André Kenji de Sousa:

    Because those facilities have been there for decades and have the current permits to operate. Also, the oil in the Gulf of Mexico will begin to run out and those companies are looking for other sources. The largest petro-chemical plant in the world is in Beaumont Texas and needs feed stock.

    If a company proposed a massive refinery in Montana, it would never be built. The difference is currently build the pipeline to current refineries and petro-chemical plants or selling the oil to China.

  49. @Dean:

    I thought the 2the months also came from the GOP side.

  50. superdestroyer says:

    @john personna:

    The Obama Administration was never doing to to approve the pipeline and setting a short deadline forced the Obama Administration to make their decision during an election cycle instead of putting it off to next December.

    What the Republican Congressman should begin to do is push for the Obama Administration to start laying off the people whose job is to review permit applications for new nuclear power plants, pipelines, refineries, mines, emission permits. since the Obama Administraiton has no plans to approve any new permits, why employ people to do the pointless job of reviewing permit applications.

  51. @superdestroyer:

    No. Setting a short deadline on an issue totally unconnected with the focus of the bill prepared us for this stage drama.

    It is a game to pretend that the GOP wasn’t asking Obama to accept this political damage as cost of his tax reduction.

    That should be deep irony for you. The GOP was willing to give the Democrats a tax cut, if they’d take a hit for it.

  52. JKB says:

    If you built a refinery in Montana, you’d still need pipelines, a lot of pipelines to move the product to where people use it. Those pipelines for the Midwest and East already terminate at the terminals in Texas.

    Plus, it is a very complex dance to move refined products through pipeline as there are so many different products going to so many different places, whereas, moving crude means just keeping the pipe full each terminal taking off what they need.

    And for those behind, the Sandhills have been off the table since last November.

    On Nov. 14, TransCanada announced it supports proposed legislation within the State of Nebraska to move the Keystone XL pipeline project forward. If passed, this legislation, introduced the same day in the State legislature, will ensure a pipeline route will be developed in Nebraska that avoids the Sandhills.

  53. Rob in CT says:

    Just for clarity, JKB, did that legislation pass?

    Anyway, I’m in the camp of “go ahead and build it, so long as reasonable precautions are taken.”

    I admit, I start with an assumption that said reasonable precautions won’t be taken unless they are forced on the industry. After all, I handled long-tail environmental insurance claims. I see it all the time: reasonable precautions are *not* taken, damage results, and nobody wants to pay for it.

    I do not see defeating this particular pipleline project as some sort of win in a fight against AGW, as at least some environmentalists seem to. Fighting this or that project, piecemeal, isn’t going to do anything. My concern is pollution of soil & groundwater near the pipeline. AGW policy has to be made at (at the very least) the national level (really, international).