A report from the National Academy of Sciences finds diluted bitumen, so-called tar sands, has no chemical or physical properties that make it more likely to lead to a pipeline spill than conventional crude oil.
Critics of the heavier form of crude oil contend it is more corrosive than conventional crude oil and therefore more likely to degrade interior pipeline walls and lead to a spill. The NAS, sponsored by U.S. pipeline regulators, said it did not find any incidents of pipeline failure unique to diluted bitumen.
American Petroleum Institute Pipeline Director Peter Lidiak welcomed the report, saying Canadian crude oil has been transported safely in the United States for more than 40 years.
"Pipelines remain a safe and reliable mode of transportation for the vital energy resources Americans needs," he said in a statement Tuesday. "We hope the NAS study will finally put false claims to the contrary to rest."
The potential for spills is one of the contentious issues surrounding the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada. President Obama said Tuesday he would support the project so long as there were no environmental drawbacks tied to it.
Canadian oil production is viewed as more carbon-intensive when compared to other varieties. The NSA report assessed only the potential for spills.
API is a supporter of Keystone XL. Obama's signature is needed for the project because it would cross the U.S.-Canadian border.