Keystone XL decision delayed as US government considers new route

Protest against Keystone XL pipeline outside the White House

Keystone XL Protest (Source: Tar Sands Action/Flickr)

By RTCC Staff

The US government will re-consider the route of TransCanada Corp’s controversial Keystone XL Pipeline, potentially pushing a decision back until early 2013.

The pipeline route has come under criticism from environmental groups, particularly in Nebraska, as it was originally planned to go through the State’s Sandhills region and the Ogallala Aquifer – a significant source of both drinking and irrigation water.

The proposed pipeline would transport 700,000 barrels per day or more through six states from Alberta in Canada down to refineries in Texas.

In a statement on the State Department’s decision, President Obama said: “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.

“The final decision should be guided by an open, transparent process that is informed by the best available science and the voices of the American people.”

The State Department will already face a review for its handling of the $7 billion dollar project.

Environmental groups welcomed the decision. Frances Beinecke president of the Natural Resource Defense Council said: “President Obama is displaying leadership and courage in putting the interests of the American people before those of Big Oil. He has taken another significant step in the fight against climate change and in our march toward a clean energy future, which will mean healthier lives for all.”

Supporters of the pipeline, however, say it would create thousands of new jobs in America, while at the same time offering the country a secure supply of energy from a neighbour country.

With potential delays of 18 months, the decision is now unlikely to take place before the US election in November 2012.

Read more on: Climate finance | Energy