Canadian pipeline company TransCanada wants to build the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline to carry oil from tar sands projects in Alberta, Canada, to refineries along the southern U.S. coast.
Demonstrators, including former supporters of U.S. President Barack Obama, formed a human chain around the White House during the weekend to protest the pipeline. They say the planned pipeline route poses a threat to an aquifer in Nebraska and claim the potential for spills of so-called heavy crude means the risk outweigh benefits to energy security.
The State Department needs to sign off on the project because it would cross international borders. An official told the Los Angeles Times on condition of anonymity that more information might be needed.
"The State Department is committed to conducting a thorough, rigorous and transparent process that leads to a decision that is in the national interest, including, if needed, gathering and assessing additional information," the official said.
The newspaper reports this suggests the Obama administration could hold off on its decision until after the 2012 presidential election.
TransCanada had said delays would be an economic pitfall for the controversial pipeline. The company said it hadn't heard of any postponements, however.