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Official: Obama to link pipeline OK to emissions

Josh Lederman, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A White House official says President Barack Obama is telling the State Department it shouldn't approve the Keystone XL pipeline unless it's sure the project won't increase greenhouse gas emissions.

Obama was making the announcement Tuesday in a speech on his climate change plan at Georgetown University. That's according to a senior White House official, who wasn't authorized to discuss the announcement by name ahead of Obama's speech and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Environmental activists have been pleading with Obama not to approve the pipeline, which would carry oil extracted from tar sands in western Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. The White House has insisted the State Department is making the decision about whether the pipeline is in the national interest.

A State Department report on the pipeline earlier this year acknowledged that development of tar sands in Alberta would create greenhouse gases, but also made clear that other methods to transport the oil — including rail, trucks and barges — also pose a risk to the environment. Obama's instruction to the State Department relates to overall, net emissions, taking into account methods that would be used to ship the oil of the pipeline weren't built.