Podesta to Sidestep Keystone Decision

Former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta moderates as Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and US Energy Secretary Steven Chu deliver remarks on the state of energy, February 28, 2012 during the US Energy Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) Energy Innovation Summit at the Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, near Washington, DC. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards 
National Journal
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Clare Foran
Dec. 11, 2013, 1:11 a.m.

John Podesta won’t play a role in de­term­in­ing the fate of the Key­stone XL pipeline — at least not an act­ive one.

When news broke on Tues­day that Podesta, who has long been a staunch op­pon­ent of the pipeline, which would carry crude from Al­berta’s oil sands to Gulf Coast re­finer­ies, was mov­ing to the White House to serve as an ad­viser to the pres­id­ent on en­ergy and cli­mate change is­sues, it raised a few eye­brows.

“It cre­ates a con­cern,” Sen. John Ho­even, R-N.D., a sup­port­er of the pipeline, told Na­tion­al Journ­al in the Cap­it­ol on Tues­day, re­fer­ring to Podesta’s po­ten­tial to sway a de­cision on the pro­ject.

But ac­cord­ing to a White House aide, Podesta, who foun­ded the left-lean­ing think tank the Cen­ter for Amer­ic­an Pro­gress, has asked not to be in­volved in a fi­nal de­term­in­a­tion to ap­prove or re­ject the pipeline.

“In dis­cus­sions with Denis [Mc­Donough, the White House Chief of Staff], John sug­ges­ted that he not work on the Key­stone pipeline is­sue, in re­view at the State De­part­ment, giv­en that the re­view is far along in the pro­cess and John’s views on this are well known. Denis agreed that was the best course of ac­tion,” the aide said.

The news was first re­por­ted by The New York­er.

Contributions by Ben Geman

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