By Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson, Friday, March 1, 12:46 PM –
The State Department released a draft environmental impact assessment of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline Friday, suggesting that the project would have little impact on climate change.
Canada’s oil sands will be developed even if President Obama denies a permit to the pipeline connecting the region to Gulf Coast refineries, the analysis said. Such a move also would not alter U.S. oil consumption, the report added.
Agency leaders are told to develop rules for releasing research after it is published in journals.
The lengthy assessment did not give environmentalists the answer they had hoped for in the debate over the project’s climate impact. Opponents say a presidential rejection of the project would send a powerful message to the world about the importance of moving away from fossil fuels and make it more difficult for Canada to export its energy-intensive oil.
But the detailed environmental report — almost 2,000 pages long — also questions one of the strongest arguments for the pipeline, by suggesting that America can meet its energy needs without it. The growth in rail transport of oil from western Canada and the Bakken formation on the Great Plains and other pipelines, the analysis says, could meet the country’s energy needs for the next decade, even if Keystone XL is never built.