Sen. Mike Johanns says recent comments by President Barack Obama on Keystone XL give little indication about whether the president will approve or reject the oil pipeline.
Obama has been discussing the Keystone XL oil pipeline of late, at times questioning whether approval would really help the economy.
“You know, the president’s comments, once again, are confusing,” Johanns states when asked to react to the president’s Keystone comments.
TransCanada proposes building the $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline from western Canada to the Gulf Coast. The pipeline would carry approximately 800,000 barrels a day of crude made from tar sands in Canada to oil refineries in Texas.
The project must receive a presidential permit to cross the border and enter the United States. The State Department has been reviewing the project for years and will issue a recommendation to the president.
In late June, President Obama mentioned Keystone XL during a speech on the environment at Georgetown University.
The president acknowledged the controversy surrounding the pipeline and said that the State Department is going through the final stages of evaluating the proposal made by TransCanada.
Obama then told the audience Keystone XL will win approval only if it is found to not contribute to carbon pollution.
Obama questioned estimates about the jobs the project would create during an interview with the New York Times last week.
Then, during a stop in Tennessee to promote a jobs-creation proposal, the president reiterated his skepticism over jobs creation estimates, claiming Keystone would create only 2,000 construction jobs and 50 to 100 permanent jobs, far lower than estimates released by pipeline supporters and even projections made by the State Department. The State Department in March estimate Keystone XL could potentially support more than 42,000 jobs.
Several analysts, on both sides of the issue, have been trying to determine how the president is leaning by carefully going over his statements.
Sen. Johanns says both supporters and opponents of Keystone could hear something in the president’s remarks that give them comfort, but Johanns says the remarks give little indication about how the president might decide the issue. Johanns says he doesn’t have a feel for how Obama is leaning.
“I don’t and nobody else does either,” Johanns says. “On any given day he says something that both sides seem to think that they can take comfort in. So, I have no idea.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]