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J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, center, accompanied by fellow Republican leaders, gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012, to voice their opposition to President Barack Obama's decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. From left are, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich.; Rep Tim Griffin, R-Ark.; Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas; Boehner; and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says he's denying an application for a Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline because a GOP-mandated deadline didn't allow time for a full review.

Obama says his decision isn't a judgment on the merits of the proposed $7 billion pipeline. Rather, he's citing the "arbitrary nature" of the Feb. 21 deadline that was set by a GOP-written provision in a recent tax bill that Obama signed.

The president says in a statement that he's disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced the decision. Obama had until late next month to decide whether the pipeline was in the national interest.

Administration officials says the looming deadline cut short the time needed to conduct environmental reviews after the State Department ordered the project developer to find an alternate route to avoid environmentally sensitive areas of Nebraska.

The 1,700-mile pipeline would carry oil from tar sands in western Canada to refineries in Texas. It would pass through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.