The State Department's internal watchdog said Wednesday that officials chose the contractor for the Keystone XL pipeline environmental review in compliance with its internal rules and did not violate conflict of interest safeguards.
The finding by Assistant Inspector General for Audits Norman P. Brown led to new calls by advocates and owner TransCanada for approval of the controversial $5.4 billion project, which would connect Alberta's oil sands with Gulf Coast refineries.
An audit by the Canadian National Energy Board has found that pipeline operator TransCanada is failing to comply with rules, including those for hazard identification and risk assessment, The Globe and Mail reports.
Just a few days ago, the White House had the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline tucked safely away at the State Department and in the hands of Secretary of State John Kerry.
Now the project faces new problems after Nebraska opponents won a court decision, and partisans on both sides have upped their rhetoric. President Barack Obama told governors on Monday he would decide whether to issue a permit in a couple of months, two of them said, but the specter of more uncertainty for the $5.4 billion project looms large.
The State Department late Thursday said Secretary of State John Kerry has not paused its review of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline in response to a court ruling in Nebraska that put a new question mark over the route.
The position for now shifts attention to the state, where legal wrangling could mean more months in courts before state officials, project owner TransCanada and opponents know if the route is valid or must go through a new approval process.
The State Department will push on with its national interest determination review of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, despite a court ruling in Nebraska that has thrown a cloud over the project.
"At this point, the State Department continues its review of the presidential permit application for the proposed project," a spokesperson said in a statement. "We are monitoring the ongoing litigation in Nebraska."
The statement for now addresses questions about whether Secretary of State John Kerry would pause the department's 90-day interagency review, after a Nebraska judge on Wednesday ruled the state law used to approve the project's siting was unconstitutional.
TransCanada President Russ Girling earlier Thursday said the company wanted the review to proceed while the state appeals the ruling. Completion of the review sets the stage for Kerry to make a final recommendation on the $5.4 billion project.
The chief executive of TransCanada on Thursday called on the Obama administration to press ahead with its national interest review of the Keystone XL pipeline, despite a legal setback in Nebraska that could delay the project.
"This is a solvable problem and we are undeterred," TransCanada President Russ Girling said in a teleconference with analysts and reporters on the company's fourth quarter results. "It's our view that there shouldn't be any impact on the Department of State process."
LINCOLN, Nebraska (AP) — A Nebraska judge on Wednesday struck down a law that allowed the Keystone XL oil pipeline to proceed through the state, a victory for opponents who have tried to block the project to carry oil from Canada to Texas refineries.
The ruling could cause more delays in finishing the pipeline.
Lancaster County Judge Stephanie Stacy issued a ruling that invalidated Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman's approval of the route.
Environmental advocates, including a former adviser to Barack Obama, have renewed their calls for the President to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. On Wednesday they urged the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies to help make their case.
Anthony Swift, an attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, called EPA "the gatekeeper in evaluating how credible the environmental review is," during the national interest determination process on the project underway at the State Department.
Nebraska is getting dueling radio ads for and against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, as landowners and ranchers in the state who are opposed to the project are matching spots put up by TransCanada, The Hill reports.
Increased seasonal fuel demand and the opening of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline have driven up oil prices in the short term, as well as increased speculators' bets on higher prices in the long term, Bloomberg reports.
A White House spokesman Wednesday night challenged a report by Rolling Stone that President Barack Obama will decide against the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project, saying on Twitter that "nobody knows" his thinking, National Journal reports.
Rosebud Sioux Tribe member Gary Dorr, at the protest camp against the Keystone XL project set up this week on the National Mall, told National Journal he worries about the effects any leaks from the proposed pipeline might have on the Ogallala Aquifer.
General Electric is set for its biggest-ever acquisition, looking to pick up the French firm Alstom, which builds power plants and trains, in a deal with a price tag of more than $13 billion, sources tell Bloomberg.
Benchmark U.S. crude for June delivery gained 18 cents to $101.62 a barrel in electronic trading on the Nymex Thursday, after falling the day before to the lowest close in more than two weeks, while Brent crude gained 9 cents to $109.20 in London, Bloomberg reports.
With just over six months to go until November elections, a poll commissioned by The New York Times finds Senate incumbents vulnerable in four important Southern states, with Republicans having the edge but victory not out of reach for Democrats.
Japan is protesting that limiting ships to 49 meters wide in the expanded Panama Canal would exclude the giant Q-Flex carrier, which would affect possible U.S. LNG export deals, The Wall Street Journal reports
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox handed over documents an environmental group had requested about the state’s decision to join in a protest over proposed fracking regulation on federal land, the Great Falls Tribune reports.
Rancher Cliven Bundy, in his well-publicized dispute with the Bureau of Land Management, has tapped into long-held Western resentment over extensive federal land ownership in the region, The New York Times reports.
A new ethane export facility along the Gulf Coast in Texas could handle 240,000 barrels per day and help relieve the growing glut of the liquefied gas, according to project developer Enterprise Products Partners, FuelFix reports.