Environmentalists are rejoicing at word that the Obama administration will delay plans for a massive Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline.
Under pressure from environmentalists and Nebraska residents and officials, the State Department announced Thursday afternoon that it will look into a new route for the Keystone XL pipeline, Reuters reports. The $7 billion project would pump crude oil from the Alberta tar sands all the way to the Gulf Coast.
Nebraskans and environmental leaders have objected to the plans on several counts. One of the biggest issues is that it would run above the Ogallala aquifer, which supplies a large swath of the Midwest with fresh water for irrigation and drinking. Nebraska’s governor sent a letter to President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in August asking that they change the route.
Environmentalists oppose the pipeline wholesale, noting the impact of tar sands oil on the global climate. Thousands of protesters have rallied outside the White House in recent weeks in a bid to convince Obama to block the project.
The administration’s move won’t stop the project outright, but it will likely delay it until after the 2012 election, the New York Times points out. That gets Obama out of a tight spot for now, though it will likely anger Republicans and others who see the pipeline as an alternative to foreign oil.
A spokesman for TransCanada, the company behind the project, told the Washington Post a delay would be a "tragedy."