Boehner challenges Obama to approve full Keystone pipeline

“If the President thinks this project is good for America, he knows how to make it happen right away. Until he does, he’s just standing in the way of getting it done.”

Republicans blasted Obama for rejecting the cross-border permit in January. But the president blamed Republicans, insisting that the decision was not based on the merits of the project but instead on a 60-day, GOP-backed deadline included in a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said earlier Monday that the Oklahoma-to-Texas segment of the pipeline “will help address the bottleneck of oil in Cushing that has resulted in large part from increased domestic oil production, currently at an eight year high.”

“We look forward to working with TransCanada to ensure that it is built in a safe, responsible and timely manner, and we commit to take every step possible to expedite the necessary federal permits," he said in a statement.

The decision to bless TransCanada’s Oklahoma-to-Texas pipeline project gave the White House another chance to blunt GOP attacks by touting its support for U.S. oil development. But Republicans roundly criticized the move, insisting that the president is still standing in the way of Keystone moving forward.

TransCanada said Monday that it will soon reapply for the cross-border permit and the White House welcomed the decision.

“We will ensure any project receives the important assessment it deserves, and will base a decision to provide a permit on the completion of that review,” Carney said in the statement.

The White House’s comments also angered environmental groups, who vehemently oppose the project.

“The administration must stop trying to have it both ways. President Obama cannot expect to protect the climate and to put the country on a path toward 21st century clean energy while simultaneously shilling for one of the dirtiest industries on Earth,” Kim Huynh, dirty fuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said in a statement.

“What the administration seems to be missing is that the southern segment of this pipeline would exacerbate air pollution in refinery communities along the Gulf Coast and threaten our heartland with costly spills — all for oil that likely won’t make it to Americans’ gas tanks.”