Nov. 14 (Bloomberg) — President Barack Obama offered his
clearest critique of the case for the Keystone XL pipeline,
signaling a confrontation with Republicans as they try to force
approval of the project starting today.
“Understand what this project is: It is providing the
ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land
down to the Gulf where it will be sold everywhere else,” the
president said today during a visit to Yangon, Myanmar. “It
doesn’t have an impact on U.S. gas prices.”
The statement repeats a main point used by opponents of the
project, including former hedge fund manager and now Democratic
fundraiser Tom Steyer. He and other critics have argued the
heavy crude from Alberta’s oil sands that will be carried by
Keystone is destined for overseas markets.
Supporters argue the project will create jobs and that the
oil is likely to stay in the U.S. and reduce the price of
gasoline for consumers.
Obama, during a news conference with Aung San Suu Kyi, the
Myanmar opposition leader, was asked by a reporter about a
scheduled vote in the House today and the Senate next week on
legislation that would approve the project over his objections.
Democrats said it will be the eighth time Republicans
sought to pass Keystone-related legislation. The difference this
time is the promise of Senate action on the same bill next week,
where it faces a closer vote. The Republican-led House will vote
about noon and probably pass the bill.
Obama said his review, led by the State Department because
the pipeline would cross a border, shouldn’t be circumvented.
“This is a process that is supposed to be followed,” he
said. He said he would judge the project on whether it or not it
accelerated climate change or if it reduced energy costs and
gasoline prices for Americans.
“I have to constantly push back against this idea that
somehow the Keystone pipeline is either this massive jobs bill
for the United States or is somehow lowering gas prices,” Obama
Obama’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, said earlier this
week that legislation to override the government’s pipeline
review process wouldn’t be welcomed at the White House.
In the past, “we have indicated that the president’s
senior advisers at the White House would recommend that he veto
legislation like that,” Earnest told reporters yesterday in
Myanmar, where Obama is attending a summit.
Michael McKenna, a Republican energy strategist and
president of MWR Strategies in Midlothian, Virginia, said he
believes Obama won’t allow the pipeline to be built.
“I don’t know how he could be any clearer,” he said.
Pipeline opponents said they were encouraged by Obama’s
“President Obama is standing with farmers, ranchers and
tribal families as we fight to protect our land and water,”
said Jane Kleeb, founder of BoldNebraska, a group that says the
pipeline is a threat to the state’s water resources and
The project would directly create the equivalent of 3,900
jobs during two years of building, according to a State
Department analysis. The total will shrink to 50 permanent
positions when the pipeline is operating, according to the
The department said the pipeline probably wouldn’t be a
significant contributor to global warming because the oil sands
would be developed and the crude sent to market even if Keystone
wasn’t approved. Rail roads and other pipelines have expanded
their capacity to move the oil to refineries.
The State Department suspended its review earlier this year
because of a legal challenge in Nebraska over the route’s path.
Obama said until the route was certain, “it’s very hard to
finish that evaluation.”
The House bill is H.R. 5682.
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Jim Snyder in Washington at
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Jon Morgan at