Secretary Clinton won't testify on Keystone pipeline rejection

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will not testify next week at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on President Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.

Instead, Kerri-Ann Jones, assistant secretary of state for oceans and international environment and scientific affairs, will testify at the hearing, according to the committee.

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Jones headed up the State Department’s review of the pipeline, which would carry oil sands crude from Alberta, Canada, to refineries along the Gulf Coast.

Republicans on the panel asked Clinton on Wednesday to testify on the Keystone decision. Clinton’s testimony would have offered Republicans a high-profile opportunity to publicly criticize the Obama administration for rejecting TransCanada’s pipeline permit.

Obama, in rejecting the permit, blamed Republicans for forcing his hand. He said that GOP provisions in December’s payroll tax cut extension deal that required a decision on the project by Feb. 21 left too little time for a project review by the State Department.

Jones will testify Wednesday in front of the committee’s Energy and Power Subcommittee. The hearing will focus on legislation authored by Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) that would put the decision on the Keystone pipeline in the hands of the independent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, not the State Department.

Top House Republicans are considering plans to move Terry’s bill in an effort to overturn Obama’s Keystone decision.

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