Keystone pipeline review looming, likely to show little climate risk

Fri Jan 31, 2014 1:52am EST
 
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By Lesley Wroughton and Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON Jan 31 (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department is poised to issue an environmental review of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline that will likely say the project will not appreciably increase carbon emissions, sources said late Thursday, forcing President Barack Obama closer to a tough decision.

Rumors swept through Washington late Thursday that the long-delayed review of the 1,179-mile (1,900-km) pipeline to bring oil from Canada to Nebraska would finally be released as soon as Friday.

"The Environmental Impact Statement is in the final stages of preparation and we anticipate a release of the document soon," a senior State Department official said late on Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The comment gives a clearer insight into where the long-awaited assessment stands. One government official said the overdue report, part of a process lasting more than five years that has strained relations with Ottawa, would be released on Friday.

Supporters say the TransCanada Corp project would create thousands of jobs and reduce U.S. reliance oil imports from nations that are less friendly than Canada. They also point to U.S. government reports about the dangers of moving crude oil by rail as an alternative to the pipeline.

Critics of the pipeline plan say it would harm the environment and hasten climate change by promoting oil-harvesting methods in Alberta that produce high levels of carbon dioxide emissions.

After several more steps that could take months, the final word on Keystone will come from the president.

A decision in favor of the pipeline could undermine Obama's environmental credentials and anger activists who are some of the Democratic Party's strongest supporters. A decision against the pipeline could undercut Obama's pledge to boost employment and U.S. energy security while alienating an important international ally and oil supplier.   Continued...