Final Decision On Keystone May Not Come Till 2014

That’s because the results of an investigation into an alleged conflict of interest won’t be out until January.

Keystone Pipeline
National Journal
Clare Foran
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Clare Foran
Aug. 23, 2013, 11:42 a.m.

The State De­part­ment’s Of­fice of In­spect­or Gen­er­al an­nounced Fri­day it does not ex­pect to re­lease the res­ults of an in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to a pos­sible con­flict of in­terest in the de­part­ment’s Key­stone XL pipeline re­view un­til Janu­ary — a move that could delay a fi­nal de­cision on the pro­ject un­til next year.

Earli­er this month, the OIG began an in­quiry in­to al­leg­a­tions made by the Si­erra Club and oth­er en­vir­on­ment­al groups that En­vir­on­ment­al Re­sources Man­age­ment, a con­sult­ing firm hired to pro­duce the draft en­vir­on­ment­al im­pact state­ment for the pipeline, had ties to Tran­sCanada Corp. and the Amer­ic­an Pet­ro­leum In­sti­tute, two or­gan­iz­a­tions with a key stake in the pro­ject.

Tran­sCanada Corp. is the com­pany set to build Key­stone, and the Amer­ic­an Pet­ro­leum In­sti­tute is a trade as­so­ci­ation, which pub­licly sup­ports the pipeline.

The con­flict-of-in­terest in­quiry and the State De­part­ment’s re­view of the pipeline have been on­go­ing, and State has not yet said when it will make a fi­nal de­term­in­a­tion on Key­stone XL. But Fri­day’s an­nounce­ment that the OIG in­vest­ig­a­tion res­ults won’t be re­leased un­til Janu­ary makes it likely that a de­cision on the pro­ject will be pushed back to 2014.

“It is our hope to con­clude work by the end of the year and re­lease a re­port in Janu­ary,” Douglas Welty, a spokes­man for the OIG, said in an e-mail Fri­day. “As to the tim­ing of the de­part­ment’s de­cision — you need to ask them dir­ectly wheth­er our work will have any im­pact on that.”

A State De­part­ment of­fi­cial did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

Any ad­di­tion­al delays are sure to prompt an out­cry from con­gres­sion­al Re­pub­lic­ans, who have long ac­cused the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of ty­ing the pro­ject up in red tape as a con­ces­sion to the Demo­crat­ic party’s en­vir­on­ment­al wing. The pipeline was ini­tially sched­uled for a fi­nal de­cision be­fore the 2012 pres­id­en­tial elec­tion, but the ad­min­is­tra­tion pushed it back last year, say­ing at the time that the en­vir­on­ment­al con­sequences mer­ited fur­ther in­quiry.

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