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.
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The State Department said the decision was made "without prejudice," meaning TransCanada can submit a new application once a new route is established. Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer, said the company plans to do exactly that. If approved, the pipeline could begin operation as soon as 2014, Girling said.Skip to next paragraph
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It did not take long for the Republicans seeking Obama's job to slam him.
Newt Gingrich, campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination in South Carolina, called Obama's decision "stunningly stupid," adding: "What Obama has done is kill jobs, weaken American security and drive Canada into the arms of China out of just sheer stupidity."
Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney said the decision was "as shocking as it is revealing. It shows a president who once again has put politics ahead of sound policy."
Project supporters say U.S. rejection of the pipeline would not stop it from being built. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said Canada is serious about building a pipeline to its West Coast, where oil could be shipped to China and other Asian markets.
Harper on Wednesday told Obama he was profoundly disappointed that Obama turned down the pipeline, Harper's office said.
Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada's president for energy and oil pipelines, said last week the company soon will have a new route through Nebraska "that everyone agrees on."
The pipeline is a dicey proposition for Obama, who enjoyed strong support from both organized labor and environmentalists in his winning 2008 campaign for the White House.
Environmental advocates have made it clear that approval of the pipeline would dampen their enthusiasm for Obama in the upcoming November election. Some liberal donors even threatened to cut off funds to Obama's re-election campaign to protest the project, which opponents say would transport "dirty oil" that requires huge amounts of energy to extract.
But by rejecting the pipeline, Obama risks losing support from organized labor, a key part of the Democratic base, for thwarting thousands of jobs.
"The score is Job-Killers, two; American workers, zero," said Terry O'Sullivan, general president of the Laborers' International Union of North America.
O'Sullivan called the decision "politics at its worst" and said, "Blue collar construction workers across the U.S. will not forget this."