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Keystone pipeline rejected over politics, say Republicans

Obama says he rejected the Keystone pipeline because mandated deadlines would not allow proper a fair review, but Republicans are accusing him of putting politics ahead of sound policy.

By BEN FELLER & MATTHEW DALYAssociated Press / January 18, 2012

Keystone pipeline: House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio (c.), accompanied by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va. (r.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, to discuss President Barack Obama's decision to halt the Keystone XL pipeline.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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President Barack Obama on Wednesday rejected plans for a massive oil pipeline through the heart of the United States, ruling there was not enough time for a fair review before a looming deadline forced on him by Republicans.

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His move did not kill the project but could again delay a tough choice for him until after the November elections.

Right away, the implications rippled across the political spectrum, stirred up the presidential campaign and even hardened feelings with Canada, a trusted U.S. ally and neighbor. For a U.S. electorate eager for work, the pipeline has become the very symbol of job creation for Republicans, but Obama says the environment and public safety must still be weighed too.

The plan by Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. would carry tar sands oil from western Canada across a 1,700-mile (2,735-kilometer) pipeline across six U.S. states to Texas refineries.

Obama was already on record as saying no, for now, until his government could review an alternative route that avoided environmentally sensitive areas of Nebraska — a route that still has not been proposed, as the White House emphasizes. But Obama had to take a stand again by Feb. 21 at the latest as part of an unrelated tax deal he cut with Republicans.

This time, the project would go forward unless Obama himself declared it was not in the national interest. The president did just that, reviving intense reaction.

"This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people," Obama said in a written statement. "I'm disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision."

Republicans responded unsparingly.

"President Obama is destroying tens of thousands of American jobs and shipping American energy security to the Chinese. There's really just no other way to put it. The president is selling out American jobs for politics," House Speaker John Boehner said. Insisting that the pipeline would help the economy, he declared: "This is not the end of the fight," signaling that Republicans might try again to force a decision.

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