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Alaska Delegation Sputters on Keystone XL Pipeline Delay

By Josh Staab, Digital Content Supervisor, jstaab@ktuu.com
Published On: Apr 18 2014 05:48:20 PM AKDT
Updated On: Apr 18 2014 05:52:34 PM AKDT
20140418 - Alaska Delegation Sputters on Keystone XL Pipeline Delay
ANCHORAGE -

A State Department announcement extending the time period for federal agencies to review the Keystone XL Pipeline project is garnering bipartisan condemnation from Alaska’s congressional delegation.

Environmentalists have hailed Friday’s decision in Washington D.C., with members of the All Risk, No Reward Coalition telling CNN that “every day without Keystone XL is a day that we keep high-carbon tar sands in the ground.” The decision has been sharply criticized by pro-energy lawmakers, however, and Alaska’s were no exception.

In a Friday statement, U.S. Senator Mark Begich blasted the State Department’s announcement that it will extend the time period for federal agencies to review the Canada-U.S. oil pipeline, further delaying a final decision.

“I am frankly appalled at the continued foot-dragging by this administration on the Keystone project,” Begich said. “Today’s announcement means we’ll miss another construction season, and another opportunity to create thousands of jobs across the country. As I have said repeatedly, this process has gone on long enough -- well past five years -- and has multiple federal reviews and open comment periods.”

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, took an even more strident tone on the announcement, with harsh words regarding both its content and its Friday release.

“The administration's choice to delay indefinitely a decision on extending the Keystone XL pipeline is nothing short of a stunning act of political cowardice,” Murkowski said. “And the timing of this announcement -- waiting until a Friday afternoon during the holy Passover holiday in the hope that most Americans would be too busy with their families to notice -- only adds further insult.”

Rep. Don Young took President Barack Obama’s administration to task for the delay leading up to Friday’s decision, noting that it comes more than five years after the first submission of an application on the pipeline.

“I wish I could say I was surprised, but this President has shown us politics and gamesmanship continues to be the standard operating procedure of his administration,” Young said. “This announcement, predictably released as the American public’s attention is with family and celebrating the Easter holiday, is not a good Friday for American jobs and infrastructure.”

Channel 2 tried Friday to reach members of TransCanada, the company behind both the Keystone XL project and a now-defunct plan by former Gov. Sarah Palin to build a natural gas pipeline in Alaska. Representatives of the firm, now one of four energy companies involved in Gov. Sean Parnell’s version of a plan for a gas line, weren’t available due to the Good Friday holiday.

Channel 2’s Chris Klint contributed information to this story.