'Stunning' Move Made on Keystone Pipeline Request
Canadian energy company writes letter to State Dept.
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 2, 2015 7:30 PM CST
In this Oct. 4, 2012 file photo, large sections of pipe are shown in Sumner, Texas.    (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, file)

(Newser) – The company behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the US Gulf Coast has asked the US State Department to pause its review of the project. TransCanada said Monday a suspension would be appropriate while it works with Nebraska authorities for approval of its preferred route through the state. The move comes before the Obama administration was widely expected to reject it. For seven years, the fate of the 1,179-mile long pipeline has languished amid debates over climate change, the intensive process of extracting Alberta's oil, and US energy security.

The pipeline has long been a flashpoint in the US debate over climate change. Critics oppose the concept of tapping the Alberta oil sands, saying it requires huge amounts of energy and water, increases greenhouse gas emissions. If the US agrees to pause the Keystone request, "it could spare [TransCanada] a potential rejection" by the White House and "could also punt the issue beyond the 2016 US election," the Toronto Star reports. The Star called the move a "stunning turn of events." (President Obama has already vetoed a bill to approve construction of the pipeline.)