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Keystone decision could be delayed until 2014

A State Department official said Monday that its final report on the Keystone XL Pipeline might not be finished until 2014 -- but said the projected completion date is not based on the agency awaiting a separate inspector general’s report on possible conflicts of interest.

“The Department is currently working towards a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, incorporating the requisite analysis and considering more than 1.2 million public comments received,” a State Department official told Fox News in a statement.

“The Final SEIS will be released after additional analysis and the issues identified in the public comments have been incorporated.”

Separately, the Office of Inspector General is looking into complaints that Environmental Resources Management, the contractor that prepared the most recent environmental impact statement on Keystone, failed to disclose possible conflicts of interest.

ERM had previously done work for TransCanada, the company which wants to build the pipeline along with other oil companies that could benefit from the project. The previous ties the companies had with each other prompted environmental groups to call for an independent investigation into the project.

“We continue to cooperate fully with OIG,” the State official said. “The Department is committed to a rigorous, transparent, and efficient federal review of the Keystone XL application.”

The 1,700-mile pipeline from Canada to Texas would carry oil from tar sands in Alberta to refineries in the Houston area, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.

The $7 billion pipeline has become a contentious issue. Project supporters, including unions and lawmakers from both parties, tout the jobs it would create and demand its approval, while environmentalists urge the president to reject it, saying it would carry dirty, carbon-intensive oil. The State Department has authority over the pipeline because it crosses a U.S. border.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.