The Latin America Herald November 24th 2014
The proposed 2,735-kilometer (1,700-mile) pipeline would transport crude bitumen from the western Canadian province of Alberta to the Texas coast. Based on the original route, staunchly opposed by environmentalists, the duct would have run through the states o Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas.
Due to those concerns, the State Department said in November it would evaluate alternative routes that would avoid the environmentally sensitive Sand Hills area of Nebraska and it estimated the review process would be completed and a decision made in the first quarter of 2013, or after the presidential election.
Sensing a political opening, congressional Republicans attached a clause requiring an accelerated decision on the pipeline – a project they claim will create 20,000 jobs – to a payroll tax cut extension bill passed in December.
Congress gave the president 60 days to either approve the pipeline or explain why it is not in the national interest, putting him in a politically awkward position since giving the green light would enrage a portion of his base while rejecting it could make him seem uncommitted to bringing down high unemployment and bolstering energy security.
Opponents of the Keystone XL have stressed the environmental damage they say the pipeline would cause in the Sand Hills area, especially due to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions and the destabilization of sensitive ecosystems.