White House spokesman Jay Carney sidestepped repeated questions Friday about whether President Barack Obama will weigh in on the Keystone pipeline.
“We have a longstanding process…in place to determine whether projects like this are in the national interest,” Carney said. “And at this point, the process is now at the State Department, and we're gonna let that run its course, as is in keeping with past practice of previous administrations.”
Carney reminded reporters at his daily briefing Friday that the State Department’s environmental review of the Keystone pipeline “does not represent a decision, but rather another step in the process.”
“There will be an opportunity after the release of the (review) for both the public and other government agencies to comment before the State Department makes its final national interest determination,” Carney said.
The State Department released the final environmental impact statement for the Keystone pipeline Friday, responding to more than 1.9 million comments received since June 2012. A 30-day public comment period will begin with the publication of a Federal Register notice on February 5, 2014 and will close on March 7, 2014.
Last year Obama said in a speech at Georgetown University that the Keystone pipeline would proceed only if “a finding that doing so would be in our nation's interest and our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution."
“Only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution, the net effects of the pipeline's impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward,” Carney said.