POLITICS
11/18/2013 01:47 pm ET | Updated Nov 18, 2013

George W. Bush Says Keystone XL Pipeline A 'No-Brainer': 'Build The Damn Thing'

Former President George W. Bush has been reluctant to criticize the policies of his successor, but last week, he jumped in and spoke out against President Barack Obama's inaction on building the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

"If private sector growth is the goal and Keystone pipeline creates 20,000 new private sector jobs, build the damn thing," Bush, a former oil company executive, said at the shale gas industry's DUG East conference Thursday in Pittsburgh, according to DeSmogBlog. The comment drew a round of applause from the approximately 2,500 attendees.

The Keystone XL pipeline would transport 800,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta, across the U.S.-Canada border and south to Gulf Coast refineries. But it first requires State Department approval, which the Obama administration has continually put off. A State Department decision is unlikely before 2014.

Environmentalists contend that the pipeline would have enormous impacts -- from increases in greenhouse gas emissions to the threat of oil spills.

Those concerns haven't tempered the enthusiasm of many, though, including the former president.

"I think the goal of the country ought to be 'how do we grow the private sector?'" Bush said. "That ought to be the laser-focus of any administration. And therefore, once that’s the goal, an issue like Keystone pipeline becomes a no-brainer."

DeSmogBlog reported that Bush explained his support for oil and gas as the product of where he's from. "I think it’s mostly because I’m from Midland, Texas," Bush said. "And we don’t like government, we don’t like Wall Street, we don’t like much. We like oil and gas."

Bush also met privately with energy industry CEOs. Allen Gilmer, CEO of the data analysis company Drillinginfo, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the former president told them he enjoys being out of the public spotlight.

"And we said, 'Well, how so?' 'Well, I go home, and it's fun to be able to just be running down the street,'" Gilmer said. "'People wave at me, and they're using all their fingers.'"

ALSO ON HUFFPOST:

George W. Bush Presidential Library Ceremony
Subscribe to the Politics email.
How will Trump’s administration impact you?

CONVERSATIONS