The State Department said Thursday that it will delay consideration of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline to study alternative routes, addressing what it termed were environmental concerns about a posssible path through Nebraska’s Sand Hills region.
The extended review will push the approval process to early 2013—past next year’s presidential election.
President Obama quickly issued a statement in support of the decision.
“Because this permit decision could affect the health and safety of the American people as well as the environment, and because a number of concerns have been raised through a public process, we should take the time to ensure that all questions are properly addressed and all the potential impacts are properly understood,” Obama said.
House Speaker John Boehner blasted the delay, contending Obama was simply trying to appease environmental groups that had sparked an outcry over the project.
“More than 20,000 new American jobs have just been sacrificed in the name of political expediency,” Boehner said. “By punting on this project, the president has made clear that campaign politics are driving U.S. policy decisions--at the expense of American jobs. The current project has already been deemed environmentally sound, and calling for a new route is nothing but a thinly veiled attempt to avoid upsetting the president’s political base before the election.”