Obama's still not ready to approve Keystone

Obama's top aide says more input is needed before the president makes a final decision on the pipeline

By Lindsay Abrams

Published February 3, 2014 2:44PM (EST)

It isn't over yet.

Despite the State Department report released Friday, which, by virtue of leaving out some crucial information, managed to conclude that the Keystone XL pipeline won't significantly increase oil-sands production or worsen climate change, Obama's top aide said Sunday that the president is still waiting to hear from other federal agencies before making his long-awaited decision. Reuters reports:

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said Obama would decide once the Environmental Protection Agency, Energy Department and other federal experts offer their assessments of the State Department review, as well as their own analysis.

...McDonough called the State Department review "one of many important inputs into the process."

"What the president's role is now is to protect this process from politics, let the experts, the expert agencies and the cabinet secretaries make their assessments both of the study that was put in on Friday as well as its impact on the national interest," McDonough said.

"So we'll resolve that over the coming period of time," McDonough said.

Environmentalists argue that cries of victory for Keystone are not only premature -- they represent a misinterpretation of the report. "The State Department has...acknowledg[ed]for the first time Keystone XL could accelerate climate change, adding the equivalent of 5.7 million new cars to the road," Danielle Driotsch, the Canada Project Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.

"There is already compelling evidence that approval of Keystone XL would expand the tar sands industry and cause unacceptable climate impacts.  This is a significant change to previous State Department analyses which have failed to acknowledge the role of the pipeline to facilitate tar sands expansion. When considering these climate impacts with the overwhelming evidence that the pipeline would create few jobs, bring tar sands to the Gulf for refining and export, and put communities and fresh water at risk, there is no other choice than to reject the pipeline. This dirty energy project fails the national interest test."

Lindsay Abrams

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Barack Obama Climate Change Denis Mcdonough Keystone Xl Pipeline