A Republican effort to "play politics" with the planned Keystone XL pipeline is what ultimately caused the project's delay, a White House spokesman said.
Canadian pipeline company TransCanada has to re-apply for a U.S. permit to build its Keystone XL pipeline after U.S. President Barack Obama denied an application earlier this year. Republicans inserted a measure in payroll tax legislation that gave Obama until mid-February to approve the project, a deadline the White House said was "arbitrary."
"Because Republicans decided to play politics with Keystone, their action essentially forced the administration to deny the permit process because they insisted on a time frame within which it was impossible to appropriately approve the pipeline," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Keystone XL would transit oil from tar sands projects in Canada to refineries along the southern U.S. coast.
Republican lawmakers insist Keystone XL is a "shovel-ready" project that would enhance U.S. energy security while providing thousands of jobs to the U.S. economy. Democrats question their figures and environmental groups consider tar sands oil to be the dirtiest form of crude oil.
TransCanada said it would re-apply after reviewing the pipeline's route through Nebraska. The state's Republican governor had said the original plans had the pipeline built through a key aquifer in the state.