Report Sees No Big Problems With Keystone Pipeline

State Department assessment angers environmental groups

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 1, 2013 6:35 PM CST

(Newser) – A long-awaited State Department report on the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline is proving to be a bitter disappointment to environmentalists, reports Politico. The draft report issued late this afternoon does not give President Obama a clear yes-or-no recommendation on whether the project should move forward, but it generally plays down the environmental risks of the 1,700-mile pipeline from Canada, reports USA Today. The newspaper calls it a "largely positive" review. For example, the State Department's assessment says Canada is going to develop its tar sands whether this pipeline happens or not, meaning it wouldn't make a big difference on climate change if it got rejected.

"Approval or denial of the proposed project is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the oil sands, or on the amount of heavy crude oil refined in the Gulf Coast area," says the lengthy report. It also states that it sees "no significant impacts to most resources along the proposed project route." Sample criticism, from activist Bill McKibben of 350.org: "We're hearing the same rehashed arguments from the State [Department] about why a great threat to the climate is not a threat at all.” The review now gets a 45-day period for public comment. The Wall Street Journal points out that backers of the pipeline seem pretty happy with the report, with an exec at the American Petroleum Institute calling the project "one step closer to reality." President Obama is expected to make his final decision sometime this summer.

In this 2012 file photo, a man walks past some of about 500 miles worth of coated steel pipe in a Little Rock, Ark., storage yard that was originally produced for the Keystone oil pipeline.   (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
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