By STEVE GELSI
President Barack Obama called Thursday for further study of the
controversial Keystone XL
Pipeline, putting off a final decision until after the 2012
elections and triggering both praise and criticism on Capitol
The $7 billion project proposed by TransCanada
(TRP) to move crude oil from the oil sands of Alberta to the
Gulf Coast of Texas requires a final OK from the State
Department, which had expected to reach a decision by the end
Now the State Department says any new route for the
1,700-mile pipeline should avoid the Sand Hills in Nebraska, an
important aquifer in the region.
"We should take the time to ensure that all questions are
properly addressed and all the potential impacts are properly
understood," Obama said.
The State Department requested a supplement to the Keystone XL
pipeline's environmental impact study, with a
fresh round of public hearings planned in coming months.
The pipeline has drawn protests in Washington and in
Nebraska, where lawmakers have expressed concern about
protecting groundwater supplies near the proposed path of the
TransCanada Chief Executive Russ Girling said the company
remains confident the pipeline will be approved.
"This was by far the most exhaustive and detailed review
ever conducted of a crude oil pipeline in the United States,"
Of the 14 routes studied for Keystone XL, an
alternative path would have avoided Nebraska's Sand Hills
region and the Ogallala aquifer; six other routes would have
reduced pipeline mileage across the Sand Hills or the aquifer,
"TransCanada hopes this work will serve as a starting point
for the additional review and help expedite the review
process," the company said.
TransCanada said the U.S. consumes 15 million barrels of oil
a day and imports 10 million to 11 million barrels. That
pattern is expected to continue for the next two or three
House Speaker John Boehner (R, Ohio) argued that delaying
the pipeline could cost 20,000 jobs.
"By punting on this project, the president has made
clear that campaign politics are driving U.S. policy decisions -- at the expense
of American jobs," Boehner said.
But Steve Cohen (D, Tenn.), who attended a protest rally
about the project outside the White House over
the weekend, praised the decision.
"For more than a year, I have been working to convince the
State Department that their environmental review for the
proposed Keystone XL
pipeline is flawed, insufficient, and dangerous to the
well-being of the American people," he said.
Dow Jones Newswires