Keystone XL pipeline (tar sands pipeline): US state department internally discussed two-year delay

Tar Sands Pipeline Protest By Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

As thousands rally against the 1,900-mile Keystone XL oil pipeline from the Alberta tar sands which would stretch through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma to Texas, Transcanada’s special access to State Department officials have some wondering if special influences will have more sway than concerns about human health and safety in the decision to permit this project – click here to read an update about the cost of cleaning up a tar sands spill into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.  The Guardian writes about State Department concerns that mysteriously disappeared, possibly because of Transcanada’s (the proposed tar sands pipeline operator) special access to high level State Department officials.

In June of 2010, in the midst of the BP Gulf oil disaster, someone deep in the bowels of the U.S. State Department was considering a two-year delay in the Keystone XL pipeline project, according to documents released last week. Public concerns about the oil industry were peaking, and the $7 billion Canada-to-Texas oil sands pipeline, which had looked like a shoo-in at the beginning of 2010, was getting a closer look.

At one point, the State Department even asked a lawyer for TransCanada, the Alberta-based company that was trying to get a federal permit to build the pipeline, to provide an assessment of how such a delay would impact the company.

What happened to that request—or to the idea of possibly delaying federal approval of the pipeline—remains a mystery, crucial to understanding the decision-making process behind one of the biggest energy projects pending before the Obama administration. The pipeline would allow an enormous supply of a particularly dirty form of oil, locked up in Alberta’s tar sands, to reach refineries in the Gulf of Mexico and markets around the world.

Documents show that TransCanada had special access to key State Department officials during this delicate period, when the future of the company’s most important project hung in the balance.

To read the complete story, click here.