U.S. seeks new Keystone pipeline route
By Arshad Mohammed and Timothy Gardner
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said on Thursday it will study a new route for the Keystone XL Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline, delaying any final approval beyond the U.S. 2012 election and sparing U.S. President Barack Obama a politically risky decision during an election year.
The decision was a victory for environmental groups, who say producing oil sands crude emits large amounts of greenhouse gases. It was a blow to TransCanada Corp, which planned to build and operate the conduit.
The State Department said that based on past experience a study of the new route could be completed as early as the first three months of 2013, well past the November 6 2012 U.S. presidential election.
Department officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the new study a would examine a route that avoids the environmentally sensitive Sand Hills of Nebraska.
The U.S. State Department had previously said it hoped to make a decision on the $7 billion project by the end of this year.
Analysts have said a long delay could kill the pipeline project because it would cause shippers and refiners to look for alternative routes to get Canadian oil sands crude.
The White House denied that the decision to look into a new route was politically motivated.
While the decision may hurt Obama with industry and could allow Republicans to argue that he has cost the nation jobs, it also may shore up his support from environmentalists, an important constituency for Obama and his fellow Democrats. Continued...