Posted: Apr 18, 2014 1:24 PM
Updated: Apr 18, 2014 1:28 PM
WASHINGTON (AP) The Obama administration is extending indefinitely the amount of time federal agencies have to review the Keystone XL pipeline, the State Department said Friday, likely punting the decision over the controversial oil pipeline until after the midterm elections.
The State Department didn't say how much longer it will grant agencies to weigh in but cited a recent decision by a Nebraska judge that overturned a state law that allowed the pipeline's path through the state, prompting uncertainty and an ongoing legal battle. Nebraska's Supreme Court isn't expected to rule for another several months, and there could be more legal maneuvering after that. The delay potentially frees President Barack Obama to avoid making a final call on the pipeline until after the November election.
"The agency consultation process is not starting over. The process is ongoing, and the department and relevant agencies are actively continuing their work in assessing the permit application," the State Department said in a statement.
The 1,179-mile pipeline would travel through Montana and South Dakota to a hub in Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines to carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day to refineries in Texas. It's become a proxy for a larger battle between environmental activists and energy advocates over climate change and the future of American energy.
In January, the State Department said that building the pipeline would not significantly boost carbon emissions because the oil was likely to find its way to market no matter what. Transporting the oil by rail or truck would cause greater environmental problems than the pipeline, the report said.
The State Department has jurisdiction because the pipeline would cross the border between the U.S. and Canada.
Associated Press writers Bradley Klapper and Matthew Lee and Grant Schulte in Lincoln, Neb., contributed to this report.