Carney, in testy Keystone XL exchange, deflects to State

Q    Jay, on Keystone pipeline.  One of his hosts today at the fundraiser in San Francisco is an active opponent of the Keystone pipeline -- Tom Steyer.  There are also going to be protests planned outside the Getty mansion tonight.  I guess I’ll try a third time on the Arkansas spill:  Have you had a chance to talk to the President about that spill?  And how does it affect -- how does the Utah spill affect his thinking on the Keystone pipeline, and what would he tell his hosts today if that issue comes up?
 
     MR. CARNEY:  Well, I’m not going to preview hypothetical answers to hypothetical questions.  What I will say is that there are procedures in place --
 
     Q    The answers wouldn’t be hypothetical, the questions would be.  The answers would be answers to the hypothetical.
 
     MR. CARNEY:  Well, I think the whole thing would be hypothetical, Hans, but thank you for your --
 
     Q    I’m just clarifying.
 
     MR. CARNEY:  I think you’re muddying, actually, but thanks.
 
     Q    No, you hide behind this hypothetical thing all the time.
 
     MR. CARNEY:  He asked me, if he’s asked, what would he say?
 
     Q    Right, but what he’d say would be his answer.  The “if” is the hypothetical.
 
     MR. CARNEY:  Well, first of all, the question hasn’t been asked.  He’s not here to give the answer to the hypothetical.
 
     Q    -- to the question is the hypothetical.
 
     MR. CARNEY:  Thank you for your assistance in the briefing, Hans.  As you know, when an incident like what has happened in Arkansas occurs, there are procedures in place.  The EPA takes the lead; the responsible party is held responsible, as is the case in this situation.  When it comes to Keystone, that is a process, as we’ve discussed many times, that is evaluated at the State Department, as has been the case for many, many years under multiple presidencies, and as is appropriate given the fact that it is a pipeline that crosses international borders.  And that process is underway, as you know.
 
     Q    But do incidents such as Arkansas, such as the spill in Utah, inform the decision-making?
 
     MR. CARNEY:  Again, the evaluation of these proposals is made at the State Department.  You can certainly ask the State Department about whether any incidents, present or past, what those incidents have in terms of an impact on their evaluation process.  I think there are standards that are followed in this evaluation process that are being followed today at the State Department, but the State Department is the location where this process takes place.
 
     Q    Is the decision of the administration at all influenced by people like Mr. Steyer, who is hosting the President today?  Is it at all influenced by the protest and demonstrators that the President sees?
 
     MR. CARNEY:  Look, I think we’ve seen over time that there are strongly held views on this issue, on both sides.  And the President is following a process that has been in place for quite some time, through multiple administrations of both parties, and that is the way it should be.  As you know, the process was delayed because of a political action by Congress, but the -- nevertheless, the process is underway and being undertaken by the State Department.

The White House has frequently routed questions about Keystone to the State Department, which is leading the review of the proposed project that would bring oil from Alberta’s oil sands projects to Gulf Coast refineries.

But the final decision about whether to grant a cross-border permit for TransCanada Corp.’s pipeline is widely expected to be made in the West Wing.