(Reuters) – The Obama administration said on Friday it would extend the period of time for federal agencies to weigh in on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, giving no new deadline.
The move, which likely delays a final decision beyond November mid-term elections, angered Republican and some Democrat lawmakers who have urged President Barack Obama to make the final decision on TransCanada's project after more than five years of government reviews.
Environmental groups hailed the move saying it underlined arguments against the pipeline.
Here is a selection of key comments from various groups:
Mitch McConnell, Republican leader in the Senate:
"It is crystal clear that the Obama administration is simply not serious about American energy and American jobs. I guess he wasn't serious about having a pen and a phone, either. At a time of high unemployment in the Obama economy, it's a shame that the administration has delayed the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline for years. Here's the single greatest shovel-ready project in America – one that could create thousands of jobs right away – but the President simply isn't interested. Apparently radical activists carry more weight than Americans desperate to get back on the job. More jobs left behind in the Obama economy."
House Speaker John Boehner, Republican from Ohio:
"This delay is shameful. With tens of thousands of American jobs on the line and our allies in Eastern Europe looking for energy leadership from America, it's clear there is little this administration isn't willing to sacrifice for politics. For no reason other than the president's refusal to stand up to the extreme left, good-paying jobs and North American energy remain out of reach. This job-creating project has cleared every environmental hurdle and overwhelmingly passed the test of public opinion, yet it's been blocked for more than 2,000 days. And if we've learned anything from the events in Ukraine, it's that energy security sends signals across borders, and nations in the region hoping for greater American energy exports will no doubt take notice of this egregious decision. There are no credible reasons to block this pipeline even one day more, and the House will continue to press the administration to move forward so we can put Americans back to work and strengthen our energy security."
Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Democrat from North Dakota:
"Once again, we're hearing more delays and more uncertainty over the Keystone XL pipeline. It's absolutely ridiculous that this well over five-year long process is continuing for an undetermined amount of time. This most recent delay leaves everyone waiting in limbo – federal agencies, construction and energy workers and companies, state officials, and Canada. It hurts all of us when no decisions are made. I'll keep pressing the Administration for a clear timeframe for the pipeline, as I did just last week with 10 other Democratic Senators. But because of this latest delay tactic by the Administration, I'll continue to seriously consider other available options for approval.
Senator John Thune, Republican from South Dakota:
"On a day when many Americans are observing Good Friday and preparing for Easter, the administration took the opportunity to quietly announce yet another Keystone delay despite the five successful environmental reviews of the energy project. The president's own State Department has said the Keystone pipeline will support more than 40,000 jobs – good jobs the administration has delayed for over five years. It's disappointing that the president today chose to further pander to his extreme environmental donor base over the 10 million jobless Americans looking for work."
Office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Director of Communications Jason MacDonald:
"We are disappointed that politics continue to delay a decision on Keystone XL. This project will create tens of thousands of jobs on both sides of the border, will enhance the energy security of North America, has strong public support, and the U.S. State Department has, on multiple occasions, acknowledged it will be environmentally sound."
Jim Murphy, Senior Counsel, National Wildlife Federation:
"This decision is yet another indication that the problems with this pipeline continue to grow and it's a bad idea that needs to be rejected. The President and Secretary (John) Kerry have all the information they need to deny the pipeline. The facts show that it exacerbates the problem of carbon pollution and fails the President's test. We are confident that ultimately the President will reject this project pipeline as it is clearly a step in the wrong direction and not in the national interest."
League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld:
"This is great news! Today's announcement by the State Department that it is extending the comment period makes us even more confident that the harmful Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will ultimately be rejected. Not only does the pipeline lack a legal route, it clearly fails the President's own climate test and threatens our waters while providing no benefits. As the administration continues to examine the Nebraska route and the disastrous climate impacts, we believe that President Obama and Secretary Kerry will find that this pipeline is not in America's national interest."
(Writing by Jonathan Leff; Editing by Frances Kerry)