Nebraska decision on Keystone pipeline on horizon-U.S. oil lobby
* State to hold last public meeting on pipeline on Tuesday
* Nebraska governor could bless the project in January-API
* Obama administration approval still pending
WASHINGTON, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Nebraska's state government will soon announce a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, a milestone in a long approval process, but it is unclear when the Obama administration will decide, a U.S. oil industry lobby group said Tuesday.
The American Petroleum Institute believes Nebraska could be set to bless the route as early as January, and urged President Barack Obama to quickly rule on the project, which has been wending its way through the approval process for five years.
The TransCanada Corp pipeline is designed to carry oil from Canada, North Dakota and Montana, and needs a presidential permit because it would cross an international border.
Last year, Obama put the pipeline on hold, citing environmental concerns with a portion of the route in Nebraska. The API said it is unclear when the Obama administration will take its next steps on the project.
The State Department has said it does not anticipate concluding its review before the first quarter of 2013.
Stopping the pipeline is a top issue for environmental groups. They argue the project would accelerate climate change through the development of Canada's oil sands, and plan to continue to fight it. Continued...