Breaking: Obama to reject Keystone XL pipeline

Big deal or just a paperwork shuffle?  The Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin breaks the news that the Obama administration will reject the application for the Keystone XL pipeline — but with a caveat:

The Obama administration will announce this afternoon it is rejecting a Canadian firm’s application for a permit to build and operate a massive oil pipeline across the U.S.-Canada border, according to sources who have been briefed on the matter.

However the administration will allow TransCanada to reapply after it develops an alternate route through the sensitive habitat of Nebraska’s Sandhills.

There had already been talk of adjusting the pipeline route to satisfy some concerns over the risk being taken with aquifers in Nebraska.  The permit application would have had to be amended in order to make those adjustments.  Did that require a rejection from the State Department?  Probably not, although it’s unclear whether the law would have allowed for a change in the current application.  Perhaps some EPA-experienced attorneys could address that point.

Here’s an even more interesting question.  The rejection allows Obama to fulfill the requirement in the compromise 60-day payroll-tax holiday bill for a decision on Keystone.  If Republicans want to force Obama into a decision on the new application, they’ll have to force it into another bill, probably the eventual compromise bill that extends the payroll-tax holiday for the entire year.

Update: Looks like the recommendations of Obama’s own jobs council got as much attention from Obama as the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission, huh?  “Drill, drill, drill” just got changed to “delay, delay, delay.”  Leadership!

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