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Tide Turning on Keystone XL Proposal

At the beginning of the summer reports suggested the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline was a forgone conclusion.  But less than 24 hours after a mass demonstration at the White House to protest the 1,700 pipeline, which would transport the dirtiest fuel on earth through American farm and ranch land, the State Department’s Inspector General announced that he will launch an investigation into wrongdoing in the department’s review of the pipeline.

It appears that pressure from national and local activists around the country has turned this once done deal into a not-so-fast proposal.

Check out the timeline below for the key moments in the declining certitude of the Keystone XL pipeline.

June 2011 – The State Department’s comment period for the project’s Environmental Impact Statement closes. Hillary Clinton implies that project will be met with approval.

August 20 – September 3 – A two-week sustained protest is held in front of the White House, resulting in 1,253 arrests.

August 26 – The State Department issues its final Environmental Impact Statement, concluding that the proposed 1,700-mile pipeline would have “no significant impact” on the environment and recommending that the project move forward.

August 30 – A White House press corps reporter asks Press Secretary Carney whether President Obama was aware of the White House protests. Carney responds, “I haven’t talked to him about it.”

September 2011 – Documents released through the Freedom of Information Act reveal a cozy relationship between TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline, and the State Department, as well as a glaring conflict of interest between TransCanada and Cardno Entrix — the firm hired by the State Department to prepare the pipeline’s Environmental Impact Statement.

October 5 – Senator Harry Reid pens a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in which he calls the proposed project “unsustainable” and “dirty.”

October 5 – A lawsuit is launched against the State Department for allowing TransCanada to clear a 100-mile corridor in Nebraska.

October 7 – The final round of public hearings concludes in Washington, D.C. Hundreds register to speak out against the pipeline and more than a thousand participate in a rally outside the hearing.

October 26 – Fourteen members of Congress call for an investigation into possible conflicts of interest in the pipeline review, including Cardno Entrix’s role in the process.

October 31 – The Nebraska Legislature opens a special session to consider changing the law to give the state more control over the Keystone XL and other major oil lines. TransCanada promises to file court challenges if Nebraska tries to intervene.

November 2 – During a visit to Nebraska, reporters put Obama on the spot about the pipeline. The president states that he, not the State Department, will make the final decision on the pipeline — representing his first public comment on the proposal.

November 5 – TransCanada admits that it has grossly misrepresented the number of jobs the controversial pipeline would create.

November 6 – The Encircle the White House action draws more than 10,000 people to Washington, D.C., to protest the Keystone XL pipeline.

November 7 – The State Department’s Inspector General announces that he will launch an investigation into wrongdoing in the department’s review of the pipeline.

Photo credit: Jerome Wagner