The Obama administration on Thursday announced that it would delay a decision on a proposed Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline until 2013, Bloomberg reported.
According to Bloomberg, the move was made to give the State Department time to review an alternative route for the $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline, to try and find a way around environmentally sensitive areas in Nebraska. The project has sparked criticism and protests from environmentalists, and Thursday's move also has the effect of postponing the decision until after the 2012 election.
“Because this permit decision could affect the health and safety of the American people as well as the environment, and because a number of concerns have been raised through a public process, we should take the time to ensure that all questions are properly addressed and all the potential impacts are properly understood,” President Barack Obama said in a written statement, according to Bloomberg.
The New York Times reported that the State Department has been trying to decide if the project is in the national interest since 2008.
"[G]iven the concentration of concerns regarding the environmental sensitivities of the current proposed route through the Sand Hills area of Nebraska, the Department has determined it needs to undertake an in-depth assessment of potential alternative routes in Nebraska," the State Department said in a statement.
According to the Times, the project has put Obama in a "political vise, squeezed between the demand for secure energy sources and the thousands of jobs the project will bring, and the loud opposition of environmental advocates who have threatened to withhold electoral support next year if he approves it."
A protest against the project on Sunday drew thousands of people to the White House.