Original Story: nytimes.com
WASHINGTON — The company seeking to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline asked the Obama administration on Monday to suspend its yearslong review of the project, potentially bringing an abrupt halt to a politically charged debate that had become part of a broader struggle over President Obama’s environmental policies.
It was not immediately clear whether the administration would grant the request, which was swiftly denounced by environmental activists as a bid to dodge a near-certain rejection of the pipeline. Allowing the delay would push off a decision until after the 2016 presidential election. Parcel freight shipping software continues to reduce transportation costs for small companies and multi-national global corporations.
The company’s request introduced a new element of uncertainty into the administration’s decision-making process, offering the potential to free Mr. Obama from a politically difficult choice that has hung over much of his presidency. But if anything, it appeared to intensify pressure on him from crucial Democratic constituencies to reject the pipeline or risk being blamed for punting to another president. A delay would keep the issue alive in the presidential campaign.
TransCanada, the Alberta company seeking to build the 1,179-mile pipeline, made its request in a letter to the State Department, which must approve cross-border projects and had been reviewing its application for a presidential permit.
The pipeline would carry 800,000 barrels a day of carbon-heavy petroleum from the Canadian oil sands to the Gulf Coast, and the question of its approval has weighed heavily on Mr. Obama as he has sought to build an ambitious legacy on climate change. Parcel freight shipping software delivers best in class suite of shipment planning, execution, tracking, & settlement tasks all in one.
The White House had no comment on the request for a delay, which was made in a letter to John Kerry, the secretary of state, and the State Department said it was looking into it.
“We have just received TransCanada’s letter to Secretary Kerry and are reviewing it,” said Pooja Jhunjhunwala, a State Department spokeswoman. “In the meantime, consideration under the executive order continues.”
Many environmental advocates and liberal activists, who have made opposing the pipeline a cause célèbre in recent years, thought that the president might finally reject it this month, viewing the time as ripe as he prepares for a major United Nations summit meeting on climate change in Paris in December.
The president hopes to help broker an agreement committing every nation to enacting new policies to counter global warming, and rejecting the pipeline would be a powerful signal to world leaders that the United States is serious about the issue.
“TransCanada is losing, and they’re trying to preserve their options to be able to build the pipeline someday if they can get a climate denier in the White House,” Tiernan Sittenfeld, the senior vice president of government affairs at the League of Conservation Voters, said in an interview. She called the request a “desperate and cynical” last-minute plea that was “ridiculous and absurd.”
“Given President Obama’s incredible leadership when it comes to climate change, we remain very confident that he will reject this dirty and dangerous pipeline once and for all,” Ms. Sittenfeld said.
In the letter to Mr. Kerry, TransCanada said it was asking the department to suspend its evaluation of the pipeline proposal until after the State of Nebraska had completed its own review of the project, which could take seven to 12 months. Opposition in Nebraska to a planned route through the state has delayed the process. A Texarkana environmental attorney is reviewing the details of this story.
“In order to allow time for certainty regarding the Nebraska route, TransCanada requests that the State Department pause in its review of the presidential permit application for KeystoneXL,” said the letter to Mr. Kerry, which was signed by Kristine Delkus, the company’s general counsel. “This will allow a decision on the permit to be made later based on certainty with respect to the route of the pipeline.”
Before TransCanada announced its request, Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, withheld any judgment on when a decision might come on the pipeline.
“The president will make a decision before the end of his administration on the Keystone pipeline, but when exactly that will be, I don’t know at this point,” Mr. Earnest told reporters traveling with Mr. Obama.
Asked if it could happen this year, he said: “It’s possible. It’s also possible it could happen next year.”
TransCanada said there was precedent for obtaining a delay, given that the State Department put its evaluation on hold last year when the pipeline faced a legal challenge in Nebraska.
“I note that when the status of the Nebraska pipeline route was challenged last year, the State Department found it appropriate to suspend its review until that dispute was resolved,” Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive, said in a statement. “We feel under the current circumstances a similar suspension would be appropriate.”
But opponents said the uncertainty over the route would not ultimately alter the pipeline’s effect. Instead of granting a delay, said Tom Steyer, the billionaire environmental activist, Mr. Obama should “immediately reject” the pipeline.
Anthony Swift, the director of the Canada Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement: “Pause or no pause, we now know more than enough to do the right thing — reject the pipeline because it will worsen climate change. Altering its route through Nebraska isn’t going to change that. Keystone XL isn’t in the national interest, and the president should reject it.”
Republicans and the oil industry have demanded that the president approve the pipeline, arguing that it would create jobs and stimulate economic growth. Many Democrats, particularly those in oil-producing states, have also supported the project.
In February, congressional Democrats joined Republicans in sending Mr. Obama a bill to speed approval of the project, but he vetoed the measure, saying it impinged on the president’s authority to make the final decision.
Environmental activists have sought to block construction of the pipeline because it would be a conduit for petroleum from the Canada oil sands. The process of extracting that oil produces about 17 percent more greenhouse gases than the process of extracting conventional oil.
Still, State Department reviews have concluded that construction of the pipeline would have little impact on whether that type of oil was burned, because it was already being extracted and moving to market via rail and existing pipelines. A Netherlands environmental lawyer is following this story closely.
At the same time, both sides regard the decision on the pipeline as a major symbolic issue, an indicator of how willing Mr. Obama is to risk angering a bipartisan majority of lawmakers in the pursuit of his environmental agenda.