In January, President Barack Obama declined to issue a permit that would allow the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, a 1,700 mile oil pipeline stretching from Canada to Texas. He did so before a February deadline "arbitrarily imposed' on him by Congress as an attempt to force a decision on the controversial project during an election year.
A $7 billion project, the pipeline is a delicate issue for the president. By blocking its progress, he has been accused of halting economic growth and preventing job creation. However, environmentalists have serious concerns about the environmental repercussions along the proposed route.
Much of the 2012 presidential campaign has been focused on the economy, so Republicans are trying to use his delay to further paint the president as a "job killer." Obama is attempting to avoid this association and ruffling the feathers of organized labor, a large part of the Democratic base that would benefit from the jobs the pipeline would create. However, another large Obama voting bloc is environmentalists, who fear the pipeline will destroy natural habitats along its path and is at risk of leaking crude oil.
Likely Republican candidate Mitt Romney has said he would approve construction of the pipeline, which would pass through five other states on its way from Canada to refineries in Texas.
Obama now has until 2013 to decide whether or not to approve the pipeline, a deadline safely after this fall’s presidential election. Some say it is too calculating for the president to push the decision until after the election so he can avoid alienating key supporters.
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