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Saturday, October 22, 2016

By David Lauter and Lisa Mascaro, Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has delayed a decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project, perhaps until after November’s midterm election.

A further delay in the evaluation of the pipeline, which already has lasted more than five years, is necessary because of a Nebraska state court decision in February that invalidated part of the project’s route, the State Department said in a statement.

Shortly after the court ruling, administration officials had said the Nebraska case would not have an impact on their deliberations. But in the new statement, the State Department said federal agencies could not evaluate the pipeline’s impact until the “uncertainty created by the ongoing litigation” is resolved.

That could take awhile. Nebraska officials have appealed the case to the state Supreme Court but have said they do not expect a ruling until late this year at the earliest.

In the meantime, the latest delay could get President Barack Obama off a politically difficult hook in an election year. The White House has been pressed on one side by environmentalists who have turned opposition to the pipeline into a major cause and on the other by conservative Democrats from energy-producing states who support it.

Administration officials have differed on both the substance and the politics of a decision on Keystone, which would carry oil from the tar sands deposits underneath Canada’s western prairies to refineries in Texas and Oklahoma.

Opponents say the project would worsen global warming by opening up the tar sands to development. Supporters say it would reduce U.S. dependence on oil from the Middle East, Africa and other unstable parts of the world and that Canada will develop the tar sands whether the U.S. approves a pipeline or not.

  • Lynda Groom

    Considering all of the foreign diplomacy problems I have no argument with putting a pipeline on the back burner. There are much more serious problems facing the State Dept and the nation. Besides it is so amusing to listen to the likes of the majority leader whining about JOBS when he and his party have done nothing regarding JOB creation. It sure isn’t that they not had the time

  • charleo1

    Who wants to bet the XL pipeline will not be built? The reason it will one day, be spanning the breadth of the Country, from tar sands of Southern Canada, to the refineries in Houston, stands as a glaring example of how much trouble the Country is in, with regards to these corporations, and their ability to eventually acquire anything from the government they decide they want. And they want this pipeline. And so it will be. Fixed there for decades, long after the heavy goo/oil, and the toxic chemicals it must be mixed with to flow in such a pipe, are gone. A scar on the land, stretching for thousands of miles. Cut atop an irreplaceable aquifer, that nourishes the crops that must feed as yet unborn millions of us, as far into an always uncertain future, as we could reasonably dream. We must be gone mad. And yet, this abomination will stand. It will be built. And in the end, there is nothing we can do to prevent it. Dangerous, and in uncountable ways, will represent the failure of this generation to pass on to the next, even with all our technology, and understanding, an environment at least as unspoiled, as the one we’ve had the privilege of living in.