The Keystone XL pipeline would have little environmental impact, according to a final analysis released this afternoon by the State Department, because the extraction of oil from Canada is likely to continue with or without its construction:
An Obama administration analysis of the Keystone XL pipeline application shows the project wouldn’t likely change the amount of oil ultimately removed from Canadian oil sands, suggesting that building the pipeline would have little impact on global climate change.
The report found that the “approval or denial of any single project is unlikely to significantly affect the rate of extraction of the oil in the oil sands, or the refining of heavy crude on the U.S. gulf coast,” a State Department official told reporters Friday.
The conclusion that the heavy crude would be extracted and delivered anyway—by rail if not pipeline—left environmentalists disappointed. But the report isn’t the last word on the matter. Now begins a final State Department study to determine whether the pipeline project is in the nation’s broader interests. A total of eight separate agencies have up to three months to weigh in, potentially injecting the pipeline issue into the midterm election season.