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Keystone XL: Still Waiting

The waiting game on a decision for Keystone XL is now at more than six years. Photo credit: "Pipes for Keystone Pipeline in 2009" by shannonpatrick17 from Swanton, Neb., Wikimedia Commons.
The waiting game on a decision for Keystone XL is now at more than six years. Photo credit: "Pipes for Keystone Pipeline in 2009" by shannonpatrick17 from Swanton, Neb., Wikimedia Commons.
May 28, 2015

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The waiting game on a decision for Keystone XL is now at more than six years, with supporters and foes wondering what is taking so long.

The Trans-Canada pipeline project decision rests with the State Department, which has been conducting environmental reviews. Backers of the project say South Dakota needs the construction jobs. Lena Moffitt, climate and energy senior manager at the National Wildlife Federation, says it's understandable that some folks are torn on the issue.

"In no way do we want to thumb our nose at those important jobs," says Moffitt. "But at the same time, this project would dramatically expand a very, very polluting industry - the tar sands in Canada."

The National Wildlife Federation opposes the pipeline, citing concerns about pipeline spills and damage to the environment for construction, damage it says would affect human health and wildlife. Congress had approved a bill to allow the pipeline to be constructed without State Department approval, but it was vetoed by the president.

Moffitt says her group has heard clues from Obama since the veto that he is leaning toward not granting the needed permit. She expects the decision will spark intense debate about the future of energy production and public health.

"But also to protect wildlife and the water and land through which this pipeline would run," says Moffitt. "That's an angle that I do think any Americans really understand. We've seen these types of pipelines spill a lot."

South Dakota's senators both support the pipeline, as does Governor Dennis Daugaard.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD