Tags: Obama | Keystone | pipeline

Obama Administration Postpones Keystone XL Pipeline Decision

Thursday, 10 Nov 2011 07:39 PM

The U.S. State Department announced it is delaying a decision on TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline to study an alternative route for the $7 billion project that avoids environmentally sensitive areas in Nebraska.

The effort to find a revised route will postpone a final decision on the pipeline, which has drawn protests from environmentalists, until after the 2012 election.

The decision by the Obama administration is a response to concerns raised by Nebraska citizens, state officials and some members of Congress about the risk that TransCanada’s current plans may pose to the Sandhills area, which lies above the Ogallala aquifer, the drinking water supply for 1.5 million people.

“Because this permit decision could affect the health and safety of the American people as well as the environment, and because a number of concerns have been raised through a public process, we should take the time to ensure that all questions are properly addressed and all the potential impacts are properly understood,” President Barack Obama said in a written statement.

The State Department, which announced the delay in an e- mailed statement, has jurisdiction because the project crosses an international border. The department’s inspector general announced a review of how the plan was handled.

The further route review “could be completed as early as the first quarter of 2013,” the department said.

Environmentalists, who are opposed to the pipeline, cheered the decision to delay.

Deal ’Undone’

“A done deal has come spectacularly undone,” said Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, which organized protests against the project.

Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, and 13 other lawmakers asked for an investigation into whether the process has been “free of actual or apparent conflicts of interest.”

Sanders said today he welcomed the State Department decision.

“I strongly believe that the more the American people learn about this project, the more they will understand that it would be disastrous for our environment and for our economy,” he said in a written statement.

Russ Girling, chief executive officer of Calgary-based TransCanada, has said rerouting delays might kill the project.

Nebraska Worries

Nebraska residents expressed opposition to the route during State Department hearings on the pipeline, calling it a threat to drinking-water supplies. The state legislature is currently in a special session weighing measures to force a rerouting of the project.

The American Petroleum Institute, in a statement yesterday, said the State Department review has been “exhaustive and unprecedented” and should not be delayed.

In an environmental impact study issued in August, the State Department said it studied 14 “major route alternatives” for the pipeline.

The State Department “did not find any of the major alternatives to be preferable to the proposed project,” the report said.

In its statement today, the State Department said the delay is in response to the “concentration of concerns” regarding the route through the Nebraska’s Sandhills. “The concern about the the proposed route’s impact” has “increased significantly over time,” the State Department said.


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The U.S. State Department announced it is delaying a decision on TransCanada Corp. s proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline to study an alternative route for the $7 billion project that avoids environmentally sensitive areas in Nebraska.The effort to find a revised route will...
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Thursday, 10 Nov 2011 07:39 PM
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