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Us Issues Assessment on Keystone XL Pipeline, Makes No Definite Recommendation

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The U.S. State Department issued on Friday a long-awaited draft environmental assessment of the Keystone XL pipeline project that would link Canada's oil sands to refineries in Texas. Read the State Department's Keystone XL report here. The review looked at greenhouse gas emissions related to the project and its shipping alternatives, including trucks and trains. It did not conclude which transport route was cleanest. Issuing an assessment that ran more than 2,000 pages, the Obama administration completed a step it had to take before a period of public comment. A final decision on TransCanada Corp's project is not expected until July or August. U.S. environmental groups earlier said the report downplays the risks of the pipeline. The report acknowledges that Alberta's oil sands are carbon-intensive. But the State Department assessment also makes clear that all modes of transportation are risky and the pipeline itself isn't any more of a threat to the environment. The analysis means that Calgary-based TransCanada has cleared a significant hurdle in its marathon bid to win approval for Keystone XL from the Obama administration. Related Keystone XL focus shifts to climate change, oil lobby says Other pipelines press on while Keystone XL stalls Now it's up to the president himself to decide whether to approve the pipeline, which would transport bitumen from Alberta's carbon-intensive oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries. Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said Thursday that the Canadian government is hopeful the U.S. will do the "right thing" and approve the pipeline. Oliver told reporters in Ottawa that approving the pipeline is in the best interests of the U.S. and that failing to approve it would cost Canada jobs and revenue. "The immediate cost would be the employment in Canada that would be lost and the revenue from the additional sales," Oliver said. He reiterated that building additional pipeline capacity to transport crude to ocean ports from Alberta's oil sands is a "strategic objective" of Canada. Keystone XL has long been a flashpoint for environmentalists, who have been cheered by Barack Obama's public pledges to combat climate change since his re-election in November. Environmentalists consider the pipeline a symbol of "dirty oil."

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