Though the job of approving or denying the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline technically falls to the U.S. State Department, President Obama said Tuesday that he will make the ultimate decision on the project.
In an interview with Omaha, Neb., station KETV, Obama said the State Department — which was expected to make the decision on the pipeline — will instead deliver recommendations to the White House on the proposal.
Obama said he will then consider a variety of factors, including environmental concerns, public health, jobs and energy independence, before making a decision.
“The State Department’s in charge of analyzing this, because there’s a pipeline coming in from Canada,” Obama told KETV’s Rob McCartney in the White House. “They’ll be giving me a report over the next several months, and, you know, my general attitude is, what is best for the American people? What’s best for our economy both short term and long term? But also, what’s best for the health of the American people? Because we don’t want for examples aquifers, they’re adversely affected, folks in Nebraska obviously would be directly impacted, and so we want to make sure we’re taking the long view on these issues.
“We need to encourage domestic oil and natural gas production,” Obama added. “We need to make sure that we have energy security and aren’t just relying on Middle East sources. But there’s a way of doing that and still making sure that the health and safety of the American people and folks in Nebraska are protected, and that’s how I’ll be measuring these recommendations when they come to me.”
Earlier this week, the White House press secretary had indicated that the final decision would rest with the State Department.