McDonough On Keystone: Obama's "Been Very Clear He's Going To Insulate This From Politics"

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DAVID GREGORY: Here's a few newsy items. One has to do with the Keystone Pipeline, right?

DENIS MCDONOUGH, WH CHIEF OF STAFF: Yes.

DAVID GREGORY: The ability to move all of that oil down through the middle of the country. Republicans have been calling for this. They say it's big for jobs. There's been a report now from the State Department saying that there's no real impact on the climate. So is this thing ready to be green-lighted by the president? What would hold him back from saying, "Yes, the Keystone Pipeline should be built, should go forward?"

DENIS MCDONOUGH: He laid out his view on this last summer, which is that his view is that if this is to go forward, it should not significantly exacerbate the climate crisis in this country.

DAVID GREGORY: Right. Didn't the State--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY: --Department answer that and said it won't?

DENIS MCDONOUGH: The Friday Report is an important input into that process. We'll hear from other cabinet secretaries. But just take a step back and think about this for a second, David. This year, for the last three months of last year, October, November, December, we produced more oil than we imported for the first time since '95.

DAVID GREGORY: I get that. Hold it, but you didn't answer my question.

DENIS MCDONOUGH: But listen to another thing. This morning, in The New York Times, terrible drought in the west, including in California, as a result of climate change. So we're going to obviously resolve the Keystone question. But that's one in a much bigger issue--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY: Fair enough. But what I'm focused on, and so just indulge me, what would stop him from saying yes at this point, given his own State Department saying there's not a big impact on the climate from doing this?

DENIS MCDONOUGH: He's been very clear that he's going to insulate this process from politics. Washington loves the politics.

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY: I didn't ask about politics. You've got a State Department study.

DENIS MCDONOUGH: And we have one department with a study. Now we have other expert agencies, the E.P.A., and many others, who have an opportunity-- the Energy Department, an opportunity to look at this and make their determinations. The president wants to protect their ability to do that, make this decision based on the best analysis and most sound science.

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