A critical environmental report that is likely to determine the future of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline will be released “soon,” the State Department said Friday.
The pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada’s tar sands to the United States, has been caught in regulatory limbo for years, as the Obama administration has navigated competing business and environmental interests.
“The Environmental Impact Statement is in the final stages of preparation and we anticipate a release of the document soon,” said a spokesperson for the State Department, which is issuing the report. “As a reminder when it is released, EIS is not a decision, but another step in the process prescribed by the Executive Order.”
A draft of the environmental report released last year found that the pipeline would negligibly impact greenhouse gas production, as the Canadian reserves would be exploited regardless of the pipeline’s construction. The final report is expected to upset environment activists who oppose the pipeline.
The pipeline has been a source of political heartburn for the White House, with a strong coalition of environmental groups organizing against approval, and Republicans turning opposition to it into a symbol for over-regulation.
In remarks last year on climate change, Obama said he would only approve the project if it was in the national interest, adding that curbing carbon pollution was in the national interest.
“I do want to be clear: Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest,” Obama said. “And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward. It’s relevant.”
Once the report is released, the Obama administration will have 90 days to make a final decision on the pipeline.