State Department Says It Won’t Take a Vacation From Reviewing Keystone XL

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A sixty-foot section of pipe is lowered into a trench during construction of the Gulf Coast Project pipeline in Prague, Oklahoma, U.S., on Monday, March 11, 2013. The Gulf Coast Project, a 485-mile crude oil pipeline being constructed by TransCanada Corp., is part of the Keystone XL Pipeline Project and will run from Cushing, Oklahoma to Nederland, Texas.
Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Not-so-big shocker: The State Department told TransCanada that it was going to keep on reviewing the Keystone XL pipeline — even though the company asked pretty-please, cherry-on-top for the permit review to be paused until Nebraska finishes its own review of the project.

If the State Department review had been delayed, it would not have wrapped up until President Obama is out of office, a coincidence that many in the administration thought seemed fishy — and perhaps resulted from the fact that TransCanada hoped that President Trump or one of the other GOP candidates who support the pipeline would be in office in a few years. The company denied that its request was “political.” The State Department did grant a review extension to itself last year due to litigation happening in Nebraska — as the Huffington Post points out — a move they also denied was “political.” Given the fractious battles and rifts that have been caused by this single pipeline, it seems safe to assume that politics drifted into the thinking of both sides of this issue at least once or twice in the past few years. 

The pipeline was first proposed seven years ago — or 5 million years ago in political years. 

We’re not required to pause it based on an applicant’s request, there’s no legal basis to do that,” a State Department spokesperson said, according to The Wall Street Journal. “Our efforts will continue to demonstrate that Keystone XL is in the national interest of the United States – just as five reports and 17,000 pages of State Department review have demonstrated over the past seven-plus years,” a TransCanada spokesperson responded, per the Omaha World-Herald. The White House reaffirmed its desire to reach a decision on the pipeline before 2017 earlier this week. Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders said today that he hopes Obama deals with the pipeline before the U.N. climate talks in Paris next month. “I would hope very much that President Obama will stand up as soon as possible and say that the Keystone pipeline is a no-brainer,” he said at a climate rally on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, “that you do not extract and transport some of the dirtiest fuel on Earth, end of discussion.”