Denying reports that Lisa Jackson suddenly left the EPA because she did not want to be in charge of the agency when Obama approves the pipeline, Victoria Rivas-Vazquez told the New York Post those reports were "false."
The Post reported last week that Jackson left because she believed Obama was going to approve the $7 billion pipeline as early as March or April, and that she did not want to be in charge of the agency when Keystone was given the go-ahead.
Rivas-Vazquez told the Post Jackson was leaving to pursue "new challenges, time with her family and new opportunities.
"The idea that her decision was made based on anything else is entirely false," Victoria Rivas-Vazquez reportedly told the Post, which broke the story.
But the Post, speaking to an insider, reported January 2 that Jackson had intended to stay on through most of 2013, and that she had decided to leave because she believed Obama had decided to approve the controversial pipeline that would ship about 700,000 barrels of crude a day from Alberta's oilsands to refineries in the southern U.S.
Because the pipeline crosses an international border, it's ultimately up to the State Department to approve the project.
Earlier this year, Obama rejected TransCanada's application to build the pipeline, calling for further reviews. But he encouraged the Canadian company to reapply, and Nebraska has recently green-lighted a different route through that state that avoids sensitive environmental lands.