Hoeven: Obama to Reject Keystone in August

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By Ari Natter

July 28 — President Barack Obama will announce the rejection of TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone XL pipeline while Congress is out of town for its August recess, Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) said July 28.

In remarks made on the Senate floor, Hoeven, an ardent supporter of the $8 billion heavy oil pipeline, said he was informed of the White House's decision by unidentified “sources.”

“He’ll turn the project down while Congress is not in session to have less push back, less criticism of the decision, make it under the radar,” Hoeven said during his floor speech. “And that timing is understandable because he’s making a political decision rather than a decision based on the merits.”

The 1,700-mile pipeline, which would carry crude from Alberta oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries in Texas, has come to be a symbol of the administration's commitment to addressing climate change.

The project, which TransCanada Corp. first applied for in 2008, requires a presidential permit because it crosses an international boundary, and a review remains ongoing at the State Department.

In an interview, Hoeven said he received his information from multiple sources but declined to elaborate.

The White House declined to comment.

“If indeed these rumors are true with what Sen. Hoeven has said today, it's a victory for our opponents,” James Millar, director of external relations at TransCanda, said July 28 by phone. “We would simply be making a choice of saying ‘Yes' to oil from Iran and Venezuela and ‘No' to oil from Canada and the U.S. Bakken.”

Hoeven was the author of a Senate bill (S. 1) that would have circumvented the Obama administration's review of the project that was vetoed by the White House in February.

May Offer Amendment to Another Bill 

Hoeven said he is considering offering the legislation as an amendment to energy legislation or another bill on the Senate floor.

“I think it’s ironic that he is going to turn down Keystone while at the same time alleviating oil sanctions on Iran,” Hoeven told Bloomberg BNA.

Jim Snyder jsnyder24@bloomberg.net and Rebecca Penty rpenty@bloomberg.net contributed to this report.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ari Natter in Washington at anatter@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com