State Department refuses to pause Keystone pipeline review

The Obama administration is refusing a request from TransCanada to delay review of the company’s application to build the Keystone XL pipeline.

TransCanada received formal notice of the refusal on Wednesday, the day after the White House said President Barack Obama would decide whether to approve Keystone before he leaves office following next year’s election.

TransCanada spokesman Mark Cooper said "we respect the decision" not to pause the federal review of Keystone.

"Our efforts will continue to demonstrate that Keystone XL is in the best interest of the United States," he said.

TransCanada wanted the Obama administration to delay the review until the Nebraska Public Services Commission rules on the pipeline’s route through that state. The wait could have pushed off a decision on whether to approve Keystone to the next president.

Obama is widely expected to deny approval of the controversial pipeline. The pipeline would run 1,179 miles from the Canadian oil sands in Alberta to refineries in Texas. The U.S. government estimates that the Canadian oil results in 17 percent more planet-warming carbon emissions than other sources of oil.

TransCanada’s Cooper said that "if the decision on a presidential permit for Keystone XL is based on its merits and on science over symbolism it will be approved." 

Environmental groups cheered the decision not to pause the review, which has been going on for seven years.

"We couldn’t agree more with the State Department’s decision. After such a long review process this was a ridiculous ploy from TransCanada," said League of Conservation Voters Senior Vice President Tiernan Sittenfeld. "We’re confident that President Obama will build on his climate leadership once again by swiftly rejecting this dirty pipeline.”

Sean Cockerham: 202-383-6016, @seancockerham