(Adds State Dept statement, Girling, Landrieu, Murkowski, API)
April 18 (Reuters) - The Obama administration said on Friday it would extend the period of time for federal agencies to weigh in on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, giving no new deadline.
The move, which likely delays a final decision beyond November mid-term elections, angered Republican and some Democrat lawmakers who have urged President Barack Obama to make the final decision on TransCanada Corp's project after more than five years of government reviews.
Environmental groups hailed the move saying it underlined arguments against the pipeline.
Here is a selection of key comments from various groups:
STATE DEPARTMENT STATEMENT:
On April 18, 2014, the Department of State notified the eight federal agencies specified in Executive Order 13337 we will provide more time for the submission of their views on the proposed Keystone Pipeline Project.
Agencies need additional time based on the uncertainty created by the on-going litigation in the Nebraska Supreme Court which could ultimately affect the pipeline route in that state.
In addition, during this time we will review and appropriately consider the unprecedented number of new public comments, approximately 2.5 million, received during the public comment period that closed on March 7, 2014.
The agency consultation process is not starting over. The process is ongoing, and the Department and relevant agencies are actively continuing their work in assessing the Permit application.
The Permit process will conclude once factors that have a significant impact on determining the national interest of the proposed project have been evaluated and appropriately reflected in the decision documents. The Department will give the agencies sufficient time to submit their views.
Senator Mary Landrieu, Democrat, Louisiana, Chair of Energy and Natural Resources Committee:
"Today's decision by the Administration amounts to nothing short of an indefinite delay of the Keystone Pipeline. This decision is irresponsible, unnecessary and unacceptable. By making it clear that they will not move the process forward until there is a resolution in a lawsuit in Nebraska, the administration is sending a signal that the small minority who oppose the pipeline can tie up the process in court forever. There are 42,000 jobs, $20 billion in economic activity and North America's energy security at stake.
"It has already taken more than five years - 1,825 days - to decide whether to permit one pipeline that is only 1,100 miles long when we already have 2.6 million miles of pipeline in our country that connects producers, refiners and consumers. Numerous reports have all given green lights to go, build and construct. This administration continues to say that its energy strategy is all of the above but its actions have been delay at all costs. I plan to use my power as chair of the Senate Energy Committee to take decisive action to get this pipeline permit approved."
Mitch McConnell, Republican leader in the Senate:
"It is crystal clear that the Obama administration is simply not serious about American energy and American jobs. I guess he wasn't serious about having a pen and a phone, either. At a time of high unemployment in the Obama economy, it's a shame that the administration has delayed the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline for years. Here's the single greatest shovel-ready project in America - one that could create thousands of jobs right away - but the President simply isn't interested. Apparently radical activists carry more weight than Americans desperate to get back on the job. More jobs left behind in the Obama economy."
House Speaker John Boehner, Republican from Ohio:
"This delay is shameful. With tens of thousands of American jobs on the line and our allies in Eastern Europe looking for energy leadership from America, it's clear there is little this administration isn't willing to sacrifice for politics. For no reason other than the president's refusal to stand up to the extreme left, good-paying jobs and North American energy remain out of reach. This job-creating project has cleared every environmental hurdle and overwhelmingly passed the test of public opinion, yet it's been blocked for more than 2,000 days. And if we've learned anything from the events in Ukraine, it's that energy security sends signals across borders, and nations in the region hoping for greater American energy exports will no doubt take notice of this egregious decision. There are no credible reasons to block this pipeline even one day more, and the House will continue to press the administration to move forward so we can put Americans back to work and strengthen our energy security."
Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican, Alaska:
"The administration's choice to delay indefinitely a decision on extending the Keystone XL pipeline is nothing short of a stunning act of political cowardice. And the timing of this announcement - waiting until a Friday afternoon during the holy Passover holiday in the hope that most Americans would be too busy with their families to notice - only adds further insult. The world is too dangerous and our energy security too important, for President Obama not to have an opinion on such important matters. This administration's cavalier attitude toward our historic alliance with Canada, the free flow of commerce with our friends, the development of a North American energy partnership and American jobs is irresponsible and inexcusable."
Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Democrat from North Dakota:
"Once again, we're hearing more delays and more uncertainty over the Keystone XL pipeline. It's absolutely ridiculous that this well over five-year long process is continuing for an undetermined amount of time. This most recent delay leaves everyone waiting in limbo - federal agencies, construction and energy workers and companies, state officials, and Canada. It hurts all of us when no decisions are made. I'll keep pressing the Administration for a clear timeframe for the pipeline, as I did just last week with 10 other Democratic Senators. But because of this latest delay tactic by the Administration, I'll continue to seriously consider other available options for approval.
Senator John Thune, Republican from South Dakota:
"On a day when many Americans are observing Good Friday and preparing for Easter, the administration took the opportunity to quietly announce yet another Keystone delay despite the five successful environmental reviews of the energy project. The president's own State Department has said the Keystone pipeline will support more than 40,000 jobs - good jobs the administration has delayed for over five years. It's disappointing that the president today chose to further pander to his extreme environmental donor base over the 10 million jobless Americans looking for work."
Office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Director of Communications Jason MacDonald:
"We are disappointed that politics continue to delay a decision on Keystone XL. This project will create tens of thousands of jobs on both sides of the border, will enhance the energy security of North America, has strong public support, and the U.S. State Department has, on multiple occasions, acknowledged it will be environmentally sound."
Russ Girling, President and Chief Executive Officer, TransCanada:
"We are extremely disappointed and frustrated with yet another delay. American men and women will miss out on another construction season where they could have worked to build Keystone XL and provided for their families. We feel for them.
"Another delay is inexplicable. The first leg of our Keystone pipeline began shipping oil to refineries outside of St. Louis in 2010. It is about the same length of pipe as Keystone XL, carries the same oil and also crosses the 49th parallel. It took just 21 months to study and approve. After more than 2,000 days, five exhaustive environmental reviews and over 17,000 pages of scientific data Keystone XL continues to languish.
It is unfortunate that interest groups and paid activists are blocking energy security, saying no to jobs, and creating a situation that actually leads to higher GHG's and greater public at risk. Canadian oil will make its way to market with or without Keystone XL. It is in everyone's best interests that this project move forward."
Jack Gerard, President and CEO, American Petroleum Institute:
"It's a sad day for America's workers when politics trumps job creating policy at the White House. After nearly six years of review, repeated research on the pipeline's benefits to economic security and job growth, numerous studies confirming no significant environmental impacts, with the backing of organized labor, and poll after poll showing the support of American voters - if the White House lacks the political leadership to make a decision, we call on Congress to represent the will of the people and act.
It's ironic that Vice President Biden is promoting pipeline development in response to the Ukrainian crisis, while the administration cannot make a decision on one of our own."
Jim Murphy, Senior Counsel, National Wildlife Federation:
"This decision is yet another indication that the problems with this pipeline continue to grow and it's a bad idea that needs to be rejected. The President and Secretary (John) Kerry have all the information they need to deny the pipeline. The facts show that it exacerbates the problem of carbon pollution and fails the President's test. We are confident that ultimately the President will reject this project pipeline as it is clearly a step in the wrong direction and not in the national interest."
League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld:
"This is great news! Today's announcement by the State Department that it is extending the comment period makes us even more confident that the harmful Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will ultimately be rejected. Not only does the pipeline lack a legal route, it clearly fails the President's own climate test and threatens our waters while providing no benefits. As the administration continues to examine the Nebraska route and the disastrous climate impacts, we believe that President Obama and Secretary Kerry will find that this pipeline is not in America's national interest." (Writing by Jonathan Leff; Editing by Frances Kerry and Marguerita Choy)