State Dept. Gives Agencies Deadline to Comment on Keystone

State Department request comes a week after the House approved a bill authorizing construction of the pipeline

By BRADLEY KLAPPER, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Federal agencies have been given a Feb. 2 deadline to provide advice on whether to move forward with the hotly debated Keystone XL pipeline.

A State Department official said in an emailed statement that other federal agencies dealing with environment, commerce and other matters were notified Friday that they have a little over two weeks left to weigh in.

The department didn’t set a timeline for when it would make its long-awaited judgment on whether the pipeline from Canada was in the U.S. national interest.

The official said that review continues. Once all information is received, the department will analyze the matter and make a determination. The official wasn’t authorized to be quoted by name and demanded anonymity.

The State Department request comes a week after the House approved a bill authorizing construction of the pipeline. The bill is now under consideration in the Senate, where Republican and Democratic supporters have said they hope the legislation could win final approval and be sent to the White House by the end of next week.

President Barack Obama has promised to veto that legislation as long as the State Department is still conducting its formal review.

Late last week, the Nebraska Supreme Court eliminated another obstacle, tossing out a lawsuit challenging the pipeline’s route. Pipeline opponents in Nebraska filed two new suits Friday over the proposed route.

The 1,179-mile pipeline would carry an estimated 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Canada to Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines on its way to Gulf Coast refineries. Since the pipeline was proposed six years ago, it has sparked intense debate over its potential impact on employment and the environment.

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