Keystone pipeline gets good news: State Department report

A group gathers to protest against the Keystone XL Pipeline at Lafayette Park on February 13, 2013 in Washington, DC.

The Obama administration is not expected to decide whether to approve the controversial Keystone pipeline until this summer, but a new report gives clues about the White House's pipeline strategy.

The pipeline would transport oil from Canada’s tar sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast. And according to the report, that Canadian oil would be developed whether the pipeline is built or not.

Stephen Schork, editor of the energy newsletter the Schork report, agrees. 

“That oil is going to the market. It’s either going to get to the market here in the United States or it’s going to get to the market in China, ” says Schork.

But some environmentalists say there would have to be a new pipeline in Canada to get the oil to the Pacific coast -- and there’s opposition to that.

Daniel Kessler, with the group 350.org, says one of the biggest environmental concerns is how much energy it takes just to extract the oil from the tar sands.

"They actually scoop up the earth, they boil it, then they send it down a pipeline to get it refined. So it’s extremely energy intensive and it’s horrible, horrible for the environment," says Kessler.

The report, issued by the U.S. State Department, doesn’t tell us anything about what President Obama thinks, and Obama says he’ll make the final decision on the pipeline.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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