EPA challenges State Department Keystone XL analysis

The Environmental Protection Agency challenged the State Department's environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline, saying the analysis should "give additional weight" to whether low oil prices could cause the project to drive the development of oil sands.

The comments, part of the ongoing six-year federal review for the Canada-to-Texas project, could give the White House political cover to reject the $8 billion pipeline. President Obama has said he would reject Keystone XL if it "significantly exacerbates the problem of carbon pollution" that scientists blame for driving climate change.

"Given recent large declines in oil prices and the uncertainty of oil price projections, the additional low-price scenario included in the final [Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement] should be given additional weight during decision making, due to the potential implications of lower oil prices on project impacts, especially greenhouse gas emissions," said Cynthia Giles, EPA assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

The State Department's final environmental impact statement concluded that Keystone XL wouldn't result in a significant uptick in carbon emissions. It said oil sands would come to market with or without Keystone XL, largely by other pipelines or trains.

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