McCarthy: EPA will be ‘honest commenter’ on Keystone XL pipeline review

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The EPA, in an April letter to the State Department, has already raised questions about a draft State analysis that found approving or rejecting the pipeline would have little effect on the rate of expansion of carbon-intensive oil sands projects. The EPA urged a deeper inquiry into the topic.

Environmentalists are vigorously disputing State’s draft finding about the TransCanada Corp.'s proposed pipeline, a project that industry groups, Republicans and some unions are pressing Obama to approve.

The delicacy of the Obama administration’s high profile, heavily lobbied Keystone review was apparent Tuesday when McCarthy fielded the question after a speech about the EPA’s agenda.

As the Keystone question was asked, McCarthy jokingly interrupted by pretending she would leave, noting to laughter that “its been very nice to talk to you ... I appreciate the opportunity to be here.”

McCarthy, asked if Keystone could proceed without a significant effect on climate change, said, “I think the administration is really carefully looking, with the State Department as the lead, at the environmental impacts associated with the Keystone pipeline.”

Moments later, in answering the same question, she suggested the Keystone project is subject to competing opinions within the administration, and called upon her experiences as a former high-ranking state regulator and a mother of three.

“EPA does not have all the answers, in case you haven’t quite figured that out lately. I knew when I worked for a state that I disagreed with some of the answers they were coming up with, and I am sure we will continue to have those disagreements and those dialogues, but I will honestly tell you that that is how it is supposed to be,” McCarthy said.

“It is not supposed to be easy. It is supposed to be hard, it is supposed to be all different interests coming together and screaming at the top of their voices like three crazy children that I have brought up. So I don’t think it is my job out of the gate to know what the path forward is. It is absolutely my obligation to allow those voices to be heard and to listen to them and it is my obligation to keep peace in the family, whether it is my little one or the EPA one,” she added.