For six and a half years, the White House has had a quick comeback to questions about its yet-to-be-announced decision on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline: Talk to the State Department.
Under a George W. Bush-era executive order, border-crossing oil pipelines require a presidential permit, granted only after a government-wide review coordinated by the State Department. President Barack Obama has deflected criticism about the delays by arguing his administration is following Bush's directive in the ordinary way.
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But an Associated Press review of every cross-border pipeline application since 2004 shows that the Keystone review has been anything but ordinary.
Since Bush's order, the government has taken an average of 478 days to process all other applications. Keystone has been waiting nearly seven years — more than five times the average.