U.S. Indicates Keystone Impact on Emissions Negligible at First - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

U.S. Indicates Keystone Impact on Emissions Negligible at First

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(CNN) - A long-awaited environmental report by the U.S. government on the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline indicates the project would have negligible immediate impact on overall carbon emissions.

The report released Friday by the State Department is considered crucial to the Obama administration's eventual decision on whether to move forward with the project.

The pipeline that would transport oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast has been a political football, pitting the oil industry and its Republican backers against environmentalists and liberal Democrats who complain it bolsters the especially dirty fossil fuel production from the tar sands of northern Alberta.

The State Department analysis makes no final conclusion on the merits of the project but suggests in parts that the impact will not be "significant" on natural resources or the rate of oil production.

In a speech last year on climate change, President Barack Obama said the pipeline should be approved only if it is carbon-neutral, meaning that approving it would have no more impact on climate change that not approving it.

In a political twist to the decision, Senate Democrats from energy states, including some like Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana facing tough reelection battles this fall, want to see the pipeline approved.

They have criticized the administration for taking several years to review it. Obama has made holding onto the Senate in November a political priority.

The next step is a 90-day multi-agency review that likely will be followed by a State Department decision on whether the project is in the national interest. That conclusion will effectively approve or quash decisions to build the pipeline.

The State Department is handling the review because the project involves Canada.

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