The president’s comments came during a question-and-answer session at the
“I did ask the president when we could anticipate a decision on the Keystone pipeline,” said Oklahoma Gov.
South Carolina Gov.
The White House declined to expand on the president’s remarks, saying only that he would wait until a
Obama has appeared to be in no hurry to build the pipeline, which many environmentalists in the Democratic base strongly oppose, but it became clear Monday that he would not use a Nebraska court battle to further slow down the federal review.
A district court judge on Wednesday ruled that a law giving the Nebraska governor the authority to approve the route of the crude-oil pipeline was unconstitutional. Although the state attorney general has vowed to appeal, Judge Stephanie F. Stacy issued an injunction throwing into question whether the pipeline's proposed route remained valid during what could be a lengthy appeal process. A ruling from the state Supreme Court could take up to a year.
The State Department said Monday that, for now, the court decision would not affect its review, which is required because the pipeline would cross an international border.
"At this time, the State Department is continuing its review of the presidential permit application for the proposed project," said the official, who was not authorized to speak on the record. "We are monitoring the ongoing litigation in Nebraska."
The 1,200-mile Keystone XL would carry oil extracted from Canada's tar sands from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Neb., where it would meet an existing pipeline that carries oil to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
"We have dealt with many issues related to this project in the past and are confident we can overcome this latest hurdle," said James Millar, a spokesman for the company, which was not a party in the lawsuit.
A lawyer for the plaintiffs in the case -- three property owners with land in the pipeline's path -- disputed the company's analysis and said the project was now in "limbo."
"The State Department and president cannot know what route the pipeline will follow, or whether TransCanada will be deemed competent to operate a pipeline, when and if it applies for permission to do so under a valid Nebraska procedure," said attorney David A. Domina.
Environmentalists also insisted that pipeline had "no legal route."
"We are confident President Obama will reject this risky pipeline and protect our land, water and property rights," said Jane Kleeb, director of Bold Nebraska, a state advocacy group.
The White House has not commented on the Nebraska case or on the president’s thinking about the pipeline. Obama has said only that his top criteria in weighing the decision would be the pipeline’s impact on climate change. Although the State Department report seemed to answer that question, the
Governors who met with Obama on Monday were uncertain which way the president was leaning.
"He said some people would be happy and some people would be unhappy," Jindal said.
But Republican Gov.