White House Issues Veto Threat On Keystone

Posted: Jan 06, 2015 1:50 PM

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest stopped playing coy and officially threatened to veto legislation that would force President Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

"I can confirm that the president would not sign this bill," Earnest said at Tuesday's White House press briefing after being asked about House Keystone legislation fired earlier in the day.

"We indicated that the president would veto similar legislation considered by the previous congress and our position on this hasn't changed," Earnest said. "I would not anticipate that the president would sign this piece of legislation."

The veto came just an hour after the House of Representatives had been sworn in.

Asked why Earnest could issue a formal veto threat today when he could not yesterday, Earnest said that the White House has since read the specific bill filed by House Republicans. 

The veto threat was not a surprise since Obama talked down the economic benefits of the Keystone pipeline in his final press conference before Christmas in December. Obama claimed that the pipeline creates only a few thousand temporary jobs only benefits one Canadian oil company. Earnest also reaffirmed yesterday that Obama is concerned about increased carbon emissions from the project, even though Obama's own State Department found the impact of the project on carbon emissions to be negligible. 

On Tuesday, however, Earnest repeatedly stressed that the White House had faith in the State Department's process for ruling on these projects and that, separately a Nebraska judge was also holding up the pipeline.

The application to begin construction on the Keystone pipeline was first submitted to the State Department in 2008 and the House bill would not affect the Nebraska suit since it is based on state law claims.