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Keystone XL Pipeline: Reports Of Obama's Approval Greatly Exaggerated

03/13/2013 06:26 EDT
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WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 12: U.S. President Barack Obama sits with Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, at the end of a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office at the White House on March 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. The two discussed strategic and economic issues in advance of October's East Asia summit and US-ASEAN summit in Brunei. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

For a moment there, it looked like President Barack Obama had given the A-OK to the Keystone XL Pipeline.

But it turned out to have been a misunderstanding -- or a case of wishful thinking on the part of a Republican House member.

Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) emerged from a meeting with Obama on Thursday and told the media the president had said he would approve Keystone. The New York Times quoted him as saying the president “indicated” support for the pipeline, and Buzzfeed reported something similar.

Both news sources ended up updating their stories after other Republicans who had attended the lunch meeting piped up to say the president had only said a decision would be coming soon.

And the White House quickly issued a denial.

"He did not indicate either way,” a White House official said as quoted at BuzzFeed, which had originally reported on Carter’s assertion. “As you know, the assessment is ongoing, and the State Department recently began the public comment period following the release of their Draft SEIS," a White House official said.

Still, House Republicans who attended the lunch generally appeared to come away with a sense the president was more positive than negative about Keystone’s approval.

My guess is that he will approve it, at least to some extent,” Rep. John Duncan (R-Tenn.) said, as quoted at The Hill. “That is the impression that I got, but he did not say one way or the other specifically.”

“I felt more positive about it than negative. I wouldn't say he implied it. But I do think that by the way he said that there would be news on that in the next couple of weeks, it was more positive than negative,” said Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.).

A recent State Department report on the Keystone pipeline suggested there would be little environmental impact from the project, as Canada would likely continue the development of the oil sands with or without it.

But the report also suggested the U.S. did not need the pipeline to meet its energy needs.

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