Protesters against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline hold placards last year in San Francisco. An environmental report on the pipeline proposal was expected Friday. Jason Reed/Reuters
The U.S. State Department gave a vote of confidence to the Keystone XL pipeline on Friday, saying in a report that it has no major environmental objections to the construction of the megaproject.
The report says development of the massive pipeline to move oil from Alberta to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast won't significantly increase the rate of oil extraction and create an unacceptable level of greenhouse gases.
That had been a key hurdle standing in the way of the project's approval.
The State Department plans to provide more details at a press conference later this afternoon. Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver will also comment on the report.
TransCanada has been seeking approval for the 1,800-kilometre, $7-billion project for several years. Friday's report is a step closer toward final approval, but far from the final one.
In the report, the State Department said other options to transport oil — such as by rail, trucks or barges — would be worse for the environment.
"Approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project … is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oilsands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States," the report says.
More to come