While Republican governors claimed on Monday that President Barack Obama has given assurances of a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline within the next couple of months, the White House has neither confirmed nor denied these claims.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin told reporters after a closed-door White House meeting on Monday that Obama said “he anticipates an answer one way or the other in a couple months.”
The fate of the Keystone XL pipeline continues to be shrouded in uncertainty after five years of negotiations, while the project owner, pipeline giant TransCanada, holds fast to the belief that the pipeline will receive the green light before the second half of this year.
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The US State Department is preparing its final environmental review of Keystone XL, and environmentalists are increasing the pressure on the White House to come out with a much more serious analysis than that released in March.
From the beginning, the Obama administration has said Keystone XL, which requires presidential approval due to the fact that it cross the border, would not be approved if the environmental review shows that it would significantly exacerbate carbon emissions.
TransCanada has already been forced to delay the project twice. In mid-November, the company announced it would delay planned start-up to 2016 because it would take at least two years to complete the pipeline once approval was granted.
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The Keystone XL pipeline would run from Alberta’s oil sands to the US Gulf Coast. It is for this northern leg--which cross the US border and requires presidential approval--that the environmental impact study is pending. A 2004 executive order mandated the US State Department to decide whether the project was in the national interest.
The delays are causing the estimated costs of the project to soar. In mid-November, TransCanada raised its preliminary cost estimate for Keystone XL to at least $5.4 billion--$100 million more than its earlier estimate. This estimate could rise further, according to TransCanada.
Environmentalists are concerned at the prospect of heavy crude oil spills in one of the 1,000 bodies of water Keystone XL would traverse as it transports some 9,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta to an oil hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, where it would connect up with Gulf Coast refineries via an existing pipeline.
By James Burgess