Politics and Keystone - Today's Q's for O's WH - 1/18/2012

TAPPER: You say that the move by Congress to force the president and the State Department to make a decision within 60 days about this pipeline is partisan.

CARNEY: Mmm hmm.

TAPPER: How is it any less political for the president, faced with a difficult choice between jobs and environmental concerns, two important constituencies for his reelection, to say, you know what, I'm going to delay a decision on this until after the reelection in November 2012? How is that any less political than what Congress did?

CARNEY: Well, because there is an established process by which these reviews are conducted. When - because of the concerns expressed by many stakeholders, including the Republican governor of Nebraska, a decision was made that an alternate route needed to be considered. That process needed to be delayed, and that the full review needed to be conducted on the alternate route. I mean, that's the way this process is supposed to work. And -

TAPPER: What would have happened if the president hadn't intervened? If the president hadn't made -

CARNEY: The State Department - first of all, again, the decision to create an alternate route was made based on the request of stakeholders affected by the original route, including, again, the governor of Nebraska and others in that state. And that necessitated, as deemed by the State Department, which has to conduct this review, the postponement and the allowance of enough time to thoroughly review the new route.

Again, I think it's important to note that, as the State Department made clear, the 60 days is simply not enough time. We don't even have an alternate route identified yet, so how could anyone possibly review it thoroughly in the manner that is expected in this process?

So, look, I - the point is, is that this - these things are supposed to be decided in a methodical, responsible manner so that all these criteria are properly weighed, because a decision like this has long-term implications for our economy and for our environment, for our national security. And those criteria all have to be considered as the decision is being made.

The effort to score a political point in a process that was wholly unrelated because they were unhappy about the fact that the president was pushing for a payroll tax cut extension for 160 million Americans I don't think makes a lot of substantive sense in terms of the issue that proponents of that course say they care about, which is, you know, the - a decision that needs to be made on the pipeline and the potential economic - positive economic impacts that that would have. You got to let the process unfold the way it's supposed to unfold, without this kind of extraneous political interference. And then a decision would be made on the merits.

-Jake Tapper

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