By Laura Barron-Lopez - 01/08/14 12:50 PM EST
Tom Donilon, President Obama's former National Security Council director, said Wednesday he "probably would" back the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline for energy security reasons.
"I'm not so sure we could have pulled off the sanctions that we pulled off in Iran absent the U.S. increased production in energy," Donilon said.
"Our ability to produce and increase production by over a million barrels a day, that was pretty critical to that."
The comment prompted the moderator to ask if Donilon would recommend the Keystone pipeline if he still advised Obama.
"I probably would," Donilon said.
Obama has yet to make his decision on the northern leg of the TransCanada pipeline, which would carry crude from oil sands in Alberta, Canada, to Gulf refineries. The State Department's final environmental impact statement is due out in the coming weeks.
Pressure for Obama to make a decision continues to mount as Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a jab at the president earlier this week, claiming Obama has "punted" the decision on Keystone XL.