Warring parties trade fire over Keystone XL pipeline

Feb. 5, 2014 at 8:04 AM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. David Vitter said he's had enough "dilly dallying" on the Keystone XL pipeline, but environmental groups said a federal review needs more vetting.

The U.S. State Department published its final report on Keystone XL Friday saying there were few environmental problems tied to TransCanada's proposed 1,179-mile oil pipeline.

A federal permit is needed because the pipeline would cross the U.S. border with Canada. The State Department said its report isn't a "decision document" and President Obama said he'd weigh the project against its environmental footprint.

Vitter, R-La., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said Keystone XL has been through a thorough review since it was submitted for approval more than five years ago.

"The [Obama] administration should now move beyond dilly dallying and approve this job creating project," he said in a statement Tuesday.

Vitter was joined in his support for the pipeline by more than 10 other bipartisan legislators and industry officials who said last week's report means the Obama administration has run out of "excuses" not to back the project.

Campaigners from Oil Change International, Friends of Earth and the Sierra Club filed Freedom of Information Act requestswith the State Department saying there may be conflicts of interest with its report. The pipeline would bring viscous crude recovered from Canadian oil sands to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

They say TransCanada Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling and other industry officials were briefed on the report before it was published. Oil Change International added it was concerned about the report because it was contracted by the State Department to British consultant firm Environmental Resources Management, which has ties to the oil industry.

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