Politics sank Keystone XL, Exxon says

March 12, 2012 at 6:47 AM

HOUSTON, March 12 (UPI) -- A decision to delay a permit for TransCanada's Keystone XL oil pipeline was based largely on U.S. politics, an energy executive said.

U.S. President Barack Obama in January denied a permit for TransCanada to build the billion-dollar Keystone XL oil pipeline. Republican leaders had tried to push the permit through by including the pipeline in a bill that extended payroll tax benefits. Obama rejected the permit because of an "arbitrary" deadline proposed in the legislation.

Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson told a major energy conference in Houston that industry leaders were practicing due diligence with the project but it was the U.S. political system that was getting in the way of development.

The decision to deny the initial permit for TransCanada, Tillerson said, was because of "political calculations" in Washington.

"In the end, it was also a disservice to public employees who are charged with overseeing this process and who met their obligations," he was quoted by the Platts news service as saying. "We must continue to engage elected officials of the public to communicate the consequences of failing to move forward with such strategic opportunities."

Backers of the pipeline describe it as a "shovel-ready" project that would shield the U.S. market from the effects that Middle East tensions have on the oil market. Critics say crude oil from Canada, designated for Keystone XL, is one of the dirtiest types of crude oil.

TransCanada can reapply after it settles on a route through Nebraska.

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