The president called the pipeline "one small aspect" of the energy picture.
Republicans' midterm victory means a Keystone XL pipeline is coming front-and-center to Congress's energy agenda, but that doesn't mean President Obama wants to talk about it.
Obama got a question during his Wednesday presser about a bill that ascendant Republicansplan to send him on approving the Keystone XL oil-sands pipeline. Obama didn't say point blank whether he'd reject the bill, instead saying he would let the "process play out" with the ongoing State Department review. He added that his parameters for evaluating the project are whether it would be good for U.S. pocketbooks, would really create jobs, and would not worsen climate change.
And then he started his push to change the conversation.
Obama suggested that Keystone gets an outsized share of the nation's energy attention, saying it was only a piece of a much larger conversation about growing petroleum production.
Here's Obama: "The [Keystone] process is moving forward, and I am going to just gather up the facts. I will note while this debate about Canadian oil has been raging -- keep in mind this is Canadian oil, this isn't U.S. oil -- while that debate has been raging, we have seen some of the biggest increases in American oil production and American natural-gas production in our history. We are closer to energy independence than we have ever been before, or at least as we have been in decades; we are importing less foreign oil than we produce for the first time in a very long time. We have got a 100-year supply of natural gas that if we responsibly tap, puts us in the strongest position when it comes to energy of any industrialized country around the world."
He wasn't done with the non-Keystone part of his answer to the Keystone question. "When I travel to Asia or I travel to Europe, their biggest envy is the incredible, homegrown US. energy production that is producing jobs and attracting manufacturing, because locating here means that you have got lower energy costs," Obama said.
Then, finally, he came back to Keystone -- if only to downplay its importance one way or the other. "Our energy sector is booming. I am happy to engage Republicans with additional ideas for how we can enhance that. I should note that our clean-energy production is booming as well. And so Keystone I just consider as one small aspect of a broader trend that is really positive for the American people."
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