A lot of oil spilled in the town of Mayflower, Ark. this weekend.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney commented briefly on the spill during his briefing today, when a reporter asked about the possible effect it could have on the Obama administration’s decision to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Answer: It’s not the biggest thing on the President’s radar.
Here’s the exact exchange, via the White House transcript (emphasis added):
Q. With the public comment phase now underway in terms of the draft of the environmental impact statement as it relates to the Keystone Pipeline, I was trying to get a sense — without any specific scheduling announcements — when we think we should expect to hear from the President on that.
MR. CARNEY: Well, the process, as you know, is run out of the State Department. The timetable depends on that process, and I would refer you to the State Department for what those next steps are and when that process plays out. I don’t have anything — there is nothing — I can promise you there is nothing on the President’s schedule that relates to that question at this time.
Q. Understood. Then given just a couple of days ago, I guess Saturday, the EPA classified a new leak that took place in Arkansas with several thousand gallons of crude oil spilling from a ruptured Exxon-Mobil pipeline in that state, the EPA describing it as a “major spill.” I’m just curious the President’s thoughts on that and, as they relate to considerations right now, even if not immediate, on that topic.
MR. CARNEY: I haven’t spoken about this incident with the President. We obviously have a system in place where the EPA in this case is the federal on-scene coordinator when you have a spill, an event like this. And they are working with and have been working with state and local officials, as well as the responsible party, as they respond to this incident; in this case, the responsible party is Exxon-Mobil.
We obviously take the safety of our many pipelines in this country very seriously. And we have an agency that is dedicated to the task of making sure that those pipelines operate safely, and, in cases like these that — investigations are undertaken and steps taken to both mitigate the damage and hopefully avoid them in the future.
We recently predicted that a decision on the Keystone XL is unlikely to come before tax day.
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