Advocates of the Keystone XL oil pipeline hailed the final environmental analysis released by the State Department as a victory, but the Obama administration is saying not so fast.
Following the release of State's Environmental Impact Statement on Friday, which said Keystone XL is unlikely to significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions, advocates saw the report as a clear indication that President Obama should approve the project.
But the White House is saying that's not the case and that further analysis is needed.
"The President has clearly stated that the project will be in the national interest only if it does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution," said Matt Lehrich, a White House spokesman, in an email. "The Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) includes a range of estimates of the project’s climate impacts, and that information will now need to be closely evaluated by Secretary Kerry and other relevant agency heads in the weeks ahead."
In the next 90 days, Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryA presidential candidate pledge can right the wrongs of an infamous day Equilibrium/Sustainability — Dam failures cap a year of disasters Four environmental fights to watch in 2022 MORE and other agencies will determine whether or not the project is in the nation's best interest. Simultaneously, the department will open up the public comment period.
"A decision on whether the project is in the national interest will be made only after careful consideration of the SEIS and other pertinent information, comments from the public, and views of other agency heads,” he added.
The environmental analysis highlights multiple factors at play that could influence agency heads on whether the project serves the nation's interests.
The report notes that a steep drop in oil prices and "long-term constraints on any new pipeline capacity" — which could result in higher transportation costs of the crude oil — could substantially impact oil sands production.
On the other hand, the report states Keystone XL would transport 830,000 barrels of oil each day, adding an extra 1.3 million to 27.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere every year.
While the report doesn't make the claim that Keystone would drastically "exacerbate emissions," it does state the crude oil will make it to market either way — as a result, Obama will have to determine if that oil will be burned even if he denies the project.
Read more about the details of the report here.