WASHINGTON — Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has endorsed the XL Keystone pipeline as a “win-win” project for U.S. energy bucking the Obama administration that has delayed the project for more than five years.
The Democrat and former Colorado Senator threw his support behind the project during an appearance at an energy conference in Houston, Texas on Wednesday and also sanctioned fracking as a safe method to free oil and natural gas.
“We know that from everything we’ve seen, there’s not a single case where hydraulic fracking has created an environmental problem for anyone,” Salazar told the Associated Press. “We need to make sure that story is told.”
Salazar was nominated to the top Interior post by President Barack Obama and served in the position from 2009 until April, during which time he refrained from endorsing the project.
Salazar’s backing comes on the heels of another endorsement from former Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who said on Monday that the pipeline controversy was political and not scientific.
“I don’t have a position on whether the Keystone pipeline should be built. That is for the secretary of State and the president,” Chu said at a press conference in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
“But I will say that the decision on whether the construction should happen was a political one and not a scientific one,” said Chu, who also departed the Obama administration in April for a teaching position.
Chu told Oil & Gas Journal that ongoing studies ordered by the Obama administration to examine the pipeline’s environmental effects are the only scientific aspects of the project.
The State Department released a report last week that concluded the $5.4 billion pipeline carrying oil from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast would not pose a significant threat to the environment.
White House Spokesman Jay Carney on Wednesday denied that the administration has politicized the approval procedure and said Obama is allowing the process to run its course to ensure the safety of the pipeline.
The application for the project was submitted in 2008 and has caused a rift in Obama’s core support base, pitting environmental groups opposed to the project against labor unions that have lobbied for the thousands of jobs it would create.
The decision was delayed until after the 2012 election, with Obama slated to make a final determination later this year.