The State Department announced today that it would delay a decision about the proposed oil pipeline from Canada. Officials held a phone news briefing with reporters about the reasons for the delay.
During the call, officials said they would produce a supplemental environmental impact statement on a proposed re-routing of the pipeline. The initial plan had the pipeline passing through the Sand Hills region of Nebraska.
As proposed, the Keystone XL pipeline is a 1,700-mile 36-inch crude oil pipeline that would begin in Alberta, Canada and extend southeast through the U.S., eventually ending in Nederland, Texas. The pipeline's builders say it will provide "significant, positive contributions to U.S. energy security and the U.S. economy valued at over $20 billion."
Opponents of the pipeline include The Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and seven other Nobel Peace Prize winners - they sent a letter to President Obama expressing their concern that if the pipeline leaks it could severely contaminate the drinking water of over two million people.
Protests against the pipeline in Washington resulted in the arrests of over 1,200 people over the summer, making it what some protest organizers called the largest act of civil disobedience since the Vietnam War protests.
The opponents' letter tells the President that rejecting the pipeline "provides a tremendous opportunity to begin (a) transition away from our dependence on oil, coal and gas and instead increase investments in renewable energies and energy efficiency."