White House Doesn't Respond To Heitkamp On Keystone


This was a funny exchange during the White House press briefing yesterday. Jonathan Karl of ABC News asked White House spokesman Jay Carney about reactions from Democrat Senators – including North Dakota’s own Heidi Heitkamp – to the decision to further delay a decision on the Keystone pipeline.

Carney’s response was the same boilerplate response about the “process” the administration has been giving for months now.

JON KARL: Obviously there have been some Democrats who are furious about this delay, Sen. Begich of Alaska said, “I am appalled at the continued foot-dragging.” Mary Landrieu said this decision is irresponsible, unnecessary, and unacceptable. Heidi Heitkamp, Democrat of North Dakota said it is ridiculous that this has been delayed yet again. Your response to these Democratic senators?

JAY CARNEY: My response to any questions about this or statements about this is that this is a process run by the State Department, as has been the case in previous administrations of both parties. There was a decision by the Nebraska Supreme Court, not here in Washington, but by the Nebraska Supreme Court that affects, potentially, the pipeline route, and the State Department that is running the process, has made a decision about the impact of that decision on the process itself. I would refer you to the State Department.

KARL: You would refer these senators to the State Department?

CARNEY: Those are just the facts, Jon. The process has to be compliant with past practice.

The incessant delays in approving the Keystone pipeline gives Democrats like Heidi Heitkamp ample opportunity to rail against the Obama administration, and thus prove their “independent” chops to their red state constituencies. But in North Dakota, at least, the delay of the Keystone pipeline is something more than an intellectual exercise in public policy.

The delay of the pipeline is having a real-world impact on North Dakotans, from delays in shipping agriculture supplies and products to very real concerns about rail safety.

As I wrote yesterday, it will be hard for Democrats in North Dakota to campaign on oil impacts when many of those impacts are being exacerbated by delays in building energy infrastructure foisted on us by the nation’s top elected Democrat.