WASHINGTON Feb 2 U.S. President Barack Obama
still wants to hear from other federal agencies before deciding
whether to accept the State Department's finding that the
Keystone XL pipeline would have no major impact on climate
change, his top aide said on Sunday.
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said Obama would
decide once the Environmental Protection Agency, Energy
Department and other federal experts offer their assessments of
the State Department review, as well as their own analysis.
But McDonough offered no word how soon Obama may rule.
Pressure on Obama to approve the project mounted on Friday
with the release of the State Department report, which concluded
the pipeline's impact on climate change would not be
Backers argue that the State Department's findings should
clear the way for prompt approval of a bid by TransCanada Corp
to build the $5.4 billion project, which would
transport crude from Alberta's oil sands to refineries on the
U.S. Gulf Coast.
Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press" and CBS's "Face the
Nation," McDonough said the president's top concern remains the
environment, not election-year politics.
The State Department report riled environmentalists, many of
whom are part of Obama's liberal base. Yet it delighted the
project's backers who include congressional Republicans as well
as some of Obama's Democrats up for reelection this November.
McDonough called the State Department review "one of many
important inputs into the process."
"What the president's role is now is to protect this process
from politics, let the experts, the expert agencies and the
cabinet secretaries make their assessments both of the study
that was put in on Friday as well as its impact on the national
interest," McDonough said.
"So we'll resolve that over the coming period of time,"
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican and an
outspoken proponent of the project, told CNN's "State of the
Union" on Sunday there was no reason for Obama to oppose the
project "unless it's just purely ideological."
"This goes to an absolutely critical issue, cheap,
affordable domestic energy (which) is an absolute critical
component for us reviving our manufacturing-based economy,"
"This is a no-brainer," the governor said.