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Obama administration denies permit for Keystone XL pipeline

More than a month before the deadline given by Congress, the Obama administration has rejected a permit for a 1,700-mile pipeline that would carry crude from Canada through Oklahoma to the Texas Gulf Coast. But the president says he will look at a pipeline to connect Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast.
BY CHRIS CASTEEL Modified: January 18, 2012 at 8:04 pm •  Published: January 18, 2012

However, Assistant Secretary of State Kerri-Ann Jones told reporters that a new application would require “a completely new review process,” even though the pipeline has been under review for three years.

“I can't say that anything would be expedited,” Jones said.

Connection to Cushing

The Keystone XL pipeline would connect to the crude oil storage hub in Cushing. Supporters say it would relieve the glut created by a lack of pipeline capacity.

In his statement on Wednesday, Obama specifically mentioned the hub, saying, “In the months ahead, we will continue to look for new ways to partner with the oil and gas industry to increase our energy security — including the potential development of an oil pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma, to the Gulf of Mexico.”

After the administration announced in November that it would delay a decision until 2013, a TransCanada official said the company could start building the segment from Cushing to the Gulf Coast as it awaited final approval of the other segment.

Gov. Mary Fallin said Wednesday, that if Obama is serious about the Cushing segment, “Then I call upon the president to say it's shovel-ready today.”

The governor said, “TransCanada has told me they could start tomorrow on the pipeline from Cushing down to the Gulf Coast. If he wants to create jobs, if he wants to help the marketplace, then start tomorrow in Cushing on down to the Gulf Coast.”

Reaction mixed

Fallin and other state leaders, including members of Oklahoma's congressional delegation, blasted the president's decision, and House Republican leaders said they had not given up. The head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be invited to testify at a hearing next week on the pipeline.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, said Obama “sided with his radical environmental friends and their job-killing global warming agenda instead of a majority of the American people who would have welcomed the tens of thousands of jobs the Keystone pipeline would have created.”

Some Democrats said Republicans were to blame for forcing an expedited decision. And environmental groups, which contend the pipeline would carry dirty crude and pose environmental risks along the route, hailed the decision.

Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, said, “Big Oil wants to ram this pipeline down the throats of American families in their insatiable appetite for more profits. Keystone XL is a scam. Canada would get the jobs, China would get the oil and America would get spills of toxic tar sands oil.”

CONTRIBUTING: Staff Writer Michael McNutt