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Energy analyst: Keystone XL pipeline no closer to approval

The State Department said the Keystone XL pipeline would not have a significant impact on global warming on Friday in its final assessment of the project’s climate impacts — but despite the Obama administration’s positive review, the pipeline may not be any closer to approval.

“The State Department’s release of the Keystone XL report should give proponents no hope that President Obama will someday approve this much-needed, job-creating pipeline,” said Tom Pyle, president of the free-market Institute for Energy Research.

“He will continue to give excuse after excuse, but President Obama will never side against the anti-oil ideologues both in and outside of his White House, despite the tremendous benefits for this nation and the overwhelming public support from the American people,” Pyle added. “As long as Barack Obama resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, I have a better chance of getting drafted by the the New York Yankees than we have of breaking ground on the Keystone XL.”

Indeed, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that the final report was “another step in the process” and did not represent a final decision. Secretary of State John Kerry has not set a deadline for when the administration would make its final determination on the project.

“The administration’s strategy is to defeat the project with continuing delays,” said North Dakota Republican Sen. John Hoeven, whose state is the middle of an oil boom.

The 1,179-mile pipeline has been sitting in limbo for more than five years, blocked by environmentalists who argue that the project will harm the climate and an administration that has delayed making a decision on the pipeline. Such delays have attracted much criticism from pipeline proponents who argue that Keystone will help the economy and promote energy independence.

“The fact that the Obama administration is still mulling the approval process for the Keystone XL pipeline shows tremendous ambivalence towards a project that is in our nation’s best interest,” said California Republican House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy, adding the project “will create jobs, and it will reduce North America’s dependence on foreign oil.”

Last summer, Obama said that he would only approve Keystone if it did not significantly contribute to global warming through increasing U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. The State Department’s final review of the pipeline echoed their draft review from last March: the pipeline’s environmental impacts would be negligible.

“[A]pproval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed project, is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States based on expected oil prices, oil-sands supply costs, transport costs and supply-demand scenarios,” says the State Department’s report.

“This final review puts to rest any credible concerns about the pipeline’s potential negative impact on the environment,” said Jack Gerard, president of the pro-pipeline American Petroleum Institute.

Environmentalists have played down the report’s environmental findings, saying that the pipeline would be damaging to the environment.

“Tar sands crude are more toxic, more corrosive, more difficult to clean up, and more carbon intensive than conventional oil,” Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “It’s the dirtiest form of crude oil in the world, and we just don’t need it.”

“President Obama now has all the information he needs to reject the pipeline,” said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, international program director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Piping the dirtiest oil on the planet through the heart of America would endanger our farms, our communities, our fresh water and our climate. That is absolutely not in our national interest. Keystone XL should be rejected.”

Now that the State Department has issued their final review of Keystone, eight federal agencies and the public have three months to weigh in on the project before the Obama administration determines if the pipeline is in the nation’s interest.

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