Keystone XL pipeline decision not expected this year, following new delay
The Canadian government demanded an answer immediately on the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline. It has now received a reply from the United States government that amounts to: Maybe next year.
The project is now paralyzed for an indefinite period, with the U.S. administration Friday announcing another delay in a process already beset by political and legal challenges.
The announcement made it clear that Canadian pipeline backers will not get the answer they wanted in time for the summer construction season, pushing completion of the project until 2015 — at best.
The State Department said it needs more time to prepare its recommendation to the president because the pipeline route is mired in uncertainty. A legal dispute is underway in Nebraska over the route and it is unlikely to be resolved before next year.
Eight federal agencies were informed Friday that they will be granted additional time to weigh into the process, while details of the route are still being clarified.
Administration officials denied claims the decision was motivated by politics. That accusation was levelled explicitly by its Republican opponents at home, and in language that was only marginally more diplomatic by the Harper government in Ottawa.
The Obama administration insisted the delay was about analyzing the right pipeline route — and not at all about flinging a political hot potato beyond November’s congressional elections.
“That pipeline route is central to the environmental analysis,” a State Department official told reporters Friday.
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