By Mike Lillis - 03/14/13 05:38 PM EDT
A day after President Obama indicated that there will soon be a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, the top House Democrat questioned the value of the controversial project.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said the pipeline would do nothing to make the country more energy independent, while creating far fewer jobs than supporters claim.
"It just is amazing to me that they can say [it would create] 'tens of thousands of jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil,' " Pelosi said during a press briefing in the Capitol. "The oil is for export and the jobs are nowhere near that.
"Would that it were," she said.
Pelosi said she was tuned into a radio program Thursday morning — "and I don't know how it got onto my radio" — where an oil lobbyist was touting the positive effects the project would have on jobs and gas prices.
"He said, 'This is going to be great: tens of thousands of jobs.' Well, that's not true," Pelosi said. "What I heard on the radio this morning was so distorted in terms of what it was, I thought, 'Why can't we just have a discussion on the facts?' "
Proposed by TransCanada Corp., the Keystone XL pipeline has been the center of a stormy debate for many months, particularly since Obama last year delayed his decision on whether to authorize construction, citing the need for an environmental impact study. If approved, the project would deliver oil from the sands of Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries.
Obama on Wednesday told House Republicans that his decision is coming soon, but there was some disagreement among the lawmakers about whether the president showed his hand.
“My guess is that he will approve it, at least to some extent,” said Rep. John Duncan (R-Tenn.). “That is the impression that I got, but he did not say one way or the other specifically.
"He said it was not going to create as many jobs as some people have claimed," Duncan added, "but it also wasn’t going to do as much environmental harm as some of the environmentalists claim."
Others interpreted Obama's message differently.
"He didn't say 'no,' he didn't say 'yes,' " said Rep. Jeff FortenberryJeff FortenberryOvernight Healthcare: Momentum on mental health? | Zika bills head to conference | Only 10 ObamaCare co-ops left Overnight Energy: Senate Dems block energy, water bill a third time Lawmakers plead with White House for pressure on Sudan MORE (R-Neb.). "I listened very carefully to every word to try to give you [reporters] a clear answer, and I don't have one."
Pelosi, an avid environmentalist, said Thursday that there's a reason the pipeline is proposed through the United States and not Canada: the Canadians don't think it would benefit them.
"I met with some legislators from Canada the other day, and I said, 'You have two coasts, actually three,' " Pelosi said, pointing upwards. "'Why aren't you taking this oil out through your own country?'
"Well, because the Canadians don't want the pipeline in their own country," she said.