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TransCanada, the company that wants to build the Keystone pipeline, announced earlier this week that it has almost finished developing a new route that would go to greater lengths to avoid the Ogallala Aquifer, and many Republicans in Nebraska have now said they are ready to support the revised route.

But White House spokesman Jay Carney on Thursday criticized the congressional mandate for a quick up-or-down decision on Keystone, calling the Feb. 21 deadline “artificial” and appearing to hint that the administration will seek more time.

“Not only has no route been identified by the company, but the environmental assessment would take six to nine months,” Mr. Carney said. “To try and circumvent that process is counterproductive.”