Demonstrators march with a replica of a pipeline during a protest to demand a stop to the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline outside the White House on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration said Thursday it is delaying a decision on a massive oil pipeline until it can study new potential routes that avoid environmentally sensitive areas of Nebraska, a move that likely puts off final action on the pipeline until after the 2012 election.
The announcement by the State Department means Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. will have to figure out a way to move the proposed Keystone XL pipeline around the Nebraska Sandhills region and Ogallala aquifer, which supplies water to eight states. The State Department said it will require an environmental review of the new section, which is expected to be completed in early 2013.
President Barack Obama said the 1,700-mile pipeline could affect the health and safety of the American people as well as the environment.
“We should take the time to ensure that all questions are properly addressed and all the potential impacts are properly understood,” Obama said in a statement.
The decision on whether to approve the $7 billion pipeline “should be guided by an open, transparent process that is informed by the best available science and the voices of the American people,” Obama said.
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