The Obama administration said Friday it has received a new application for the Keystone XL pipeline that addresses environmental concerns related to its approval, but no decision is likely before the election.
The resubmitted TransCanada application and the State Department response is sure to add fuel to the election year debate between the Obama campaign and Republicans, who say approving the trans-continental pipeline would significantly help ease the county’s energy problems, including dependency on foreign oil and rising gasoline prices.
The new application for the pipeline -- from the U.S.-Canada border to the Texas Gulf Coast -- essentially includes a revised route through Nebraska.
The State Department, which in January rejected the original application, said Nebraska’s review will take six to nine months, and its “best estimate on when we would complete the national interest determination was the first quarter of 2013.”
The agency said it will determine whether to grant the permit, based on whether it would be in the best interest of the country.
TransCanada said the Canadian regulatory approvals and permits are in place. The U.S. permit is for the section of pipeline that runs from the border in Montana to Steele City, Nebraska.
The company said it already has “firm, long-term contracts” for more than 600,000 barrels of oil a day.
"The multibillion-dollar Keystone XL pipeline project will reduce the United States' dependence on foreign oil and support job growth by putting thousands of Americans to work," said Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer.
Still, the company acknowledged that pipeline construction would not begin until 2013, which wouldn’t get oil flowing from Canada and the Bakken supply basin in Montana and North Dakota to Texas refineries until 2014 or early 2015.
Girling said the new application builds on more than three years of environmental review already conducted for Keystone XL and satisfies President Obama's call to speed infrastructure development through more efficient and effective permitting and review.”
The announcements were made the same day the Labor Department announced U.S. job growth slowed in April for a second straight month. The unemployment rate fell from 8.2 percent in March to 8.1 percent in April, because more people stopped looking for work.
“The cost of gasoline has almost doubled under President Obama,” likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said Friday during a speech in Pittsburgh.
He also said the president “doesn’t like oil.”
TransCanada officials said the pipeline would create thousands of much-needed construction and manufacturing jobs and allow Americans to move closer to achieving energy security. The U.S. consumes 14 to 15 million barrels of oil each day, according to the company.
The American Petroleum Institute challenged Obama to approve the pipeline
"The earth hasn't moved, the geology hasn't changed, the information remains the same, so there should be no reason for a re-review," said company Executive Vice President Marty Durbin.