The agency also asked the State Department to consider the national security implications of expanding the nation's commitment to a relatively high-carbon source of oil, which EPA says has a well-to-tank carbon footprint 82 percent greater than conventional oil.
The review period was extended 90 days to allow for interagency cooperation, but Secretary of State Clinton created controversy when she said in a speech that she was inclined to grant the approval. Her comments came before the interagency analysis was completed.
Subsequently it was revealed that TransCanada's chief Washington lobbyist, Paul Elliott, served as national deputy director and chief of staff for delegate selection for the 2008 presidential campaign of then-New York Sen. Hillary Clinton. Freedom of Information Act requests for communications with Paul Elliott have been perfunctorily rejected by the State Department.
If Lisa Jackson's EPA and Hillary Clinton's State Department cannot reach agreement over the Keystone XL permit application, the matter could end up on the president's desk under provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.
A surprisingly powerful provision allows any federal agency, concerned about the environmental effects of a proposed major federal action, to force a review by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, which is a part of the executive office of the president. A CEQ source told SolveClimate News last July that once a matter is in their hands, "we have broad authority to do what we will with it."
Regulations describe seven possible avenues that CEQ can decide to pursue to resolve interagency disputes referred for resolution. CEQ can decide whether it wants to mediate the dispute, for example, hold public hearings, or publish its own findings and recommendations. If interagency differences are irreconcilable, as a last resort CEQ can submit the referral and its response together with its recommendation to the president for action.