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Keystone XL pipeline debate heats up over new report

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President Obama will not rush a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, even after the State Department released its long-awaited environmental impact statement, according to the White House. The State Department report, released late Friday, found that the pipeline is unlikely to have a significant impact on the amount of oil extracted from Canada’s oil sands. That finding addressed concerns among environmentalists that extracting oil from the Canada sands would release large amounts of carbon dioxide and thereby advance climate change.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, speaking on Sunday talk shows, said the President will wait for other agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Department to offer their assessments of the project before making a final decision. Friday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney emphasized during his daily briefing that the State Department report is not the final word. “It does not or will not represent a decision, but rather another step in the process,” he said in response to a reporter’s question on what the President’s role will be in the process. The State Department also will release a report on whether the project is in the national interest.

Proponents of the plan believe the $5 billion project will boost the economy and reduce dependence on foreign oil. Increasing pressure on President Obama, the plan’s backers cross party lines to include some Senate Democrats such as Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, as well as Republicans in Congress. Environmentalists planned protests for across the country Monday, in response to the latest report.