WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has denied a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, with officials suggesting Wednesday there was not enough time to determine whether it was in America’s interest to give the controversial $7 billion project the go-ahead.The State Department said in a statement it did not have “sufficient time to obtain the information necessary to assess whether the project, in its current state, is in the national interest.”However, the department — which has the final say in the pipeline’s approval because it crosses international borders — said its denial of TransCanada Corp.’s request for a permit did not preclude other applications for similar projects, meaning it could revisit the project if alternative routes are proposed. The pipeline, which would run from Canada to Texas, was a major sticking point in the debate in Congress last month over the extension of the payroll tax holiday. The final agreement on the extension included a provision forcing the Obama administration to make a quicker decision on whether to approve the pipeline.But the White House had suggested the Feb. 21 deadline did not give it enough time to carry out the reviews necessary to determine the pipeline’s environmental impact, according to FOX News. The State Department has been reviewing the pipeline since 2008.Reacting to the State Department’s decision, President Barack Obama released a statement blasting the “rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans.”"This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people,” Obama’s statement said.”I’m disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision, but it does not change my Administration’s commitment to American-made energy that creates jobs and reduces our dependence on oil.”Amid protests from environmental groups, Obama had initially said he would not issue a final verdict on the project until after the 2012 elections. Republicans argued the pipeline would create thousands of US jobs and said Obama was delaying the decision for purely political reasons.Speaking to reporters after the State Department released its decision, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) blasted Obama’s policies, which he said “make the economy worse, not better.”"The president won’t stand up to his political base, even in the name of creating American jobs, and now Canada is gonna have to look to other nations, like China, to sell its oil reserves to,” Boehner said.Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said Canada could sell oil from its tar sands to China if the US does not agree to the construction.”This is not the end of the fight,” Boehner vowed. “Republicans in Congress will continue to push this because it’s good for our country and good for our economy and it’s good for the American people, especially those who are looking for work.”Harper’s office said Wednesday the prime minister had expressed his “profound disappointment” to Obama over the proposal’s rejection, AFP reported. The two leaders spoke over the phone about the Obama administration’s decision.TransCanada said in a statement that while it was disappointed by the outcome, it would re-apply for a permit.”TransCanada will continue to work collaboratively with Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality on determining the safest route for Keystone XL that avoids the Sandhills,” the company said in a statement, referring to an environmentally sensitive area of the state.Proponents of TransCanada reached an agreement in November with the Nebraska state Senate that would move the pipeline’s route away from the region, but White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday that an alternate route “to this day does not exist.”"You don’t grant a permit for a pipeline with a significant portion of it missing,” Carney said.