The PJ Tatler

State Dept. Won't Grant Keystone Pause Because They've Spent So Much Time on It Already

The State Department acknowledged today that “there may be such criticisms” that the Obama administration is unfriendly to business after its refusal to heed TransCanada’s request to pause the Keystone XL pipeline review.

The company asked for pause in the review “based on the fact that we have applied to the Nebraska Public Service Commission for approval of its preferred route in the state,” Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement Monday.

“I note that when the status of the Nebraska pipeline route was challenged last year, the State Department found it appropriate to suspend its review until that dispute was resolved,” Girling said. “We feel under the current circumstances a similar suspension would be appropriate.”

That could give enough of a delay to push the issue into the next administration — or right before the next election.

But the administration, which has dragged out the cross-border permit process for years, vows that President Obama wants to issue an environmentally-friendly verdict before the end of his term.

“We’ve communicated to them our intention to continue the review. We will do that, and when it’s over, and when we have something to — to talk about publicly, we — we will,” press secretary John Kirby told reporters today. “There’s no obligation, based on a request, to stop that process.”

“We believe that respecting the process is, in fact, the way to eventually get at a decision that best supports our national interests here in the United States.”

Kirby said the State Department didn’t want to pause the process because they’d already done so much work.

“Look, there have been and there will continue to be many views on this and many voices heard. For our part, we’ve reached the point now in the process where we’ve done a lot of the homework to listen to those voices, to hear them — public, interagency. A lot of work’s been done and put into this — a lot of work, very thorough, very deliberate and very inclusive,” he said.

“…Even in our work, voices on all sides, which is exactly what the process is designed to produce, so that the best informed determination going forward can be arrived at. And that’s, again, why the secretary wants the process to continue and declined to pause that process at the stage that we’re at.”

Kirby added that Secretary of State John Kerry is “very comfortable in our decision to not pause this process as it has reached this mature phase, and has been so inclusive and has involved so much effort and resources.”