Despite passing the State Department's final environmental analysis earlier this year, the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is facing more delays well before developments get underway. In an announcement made today, the Obama White House stated that it is putting its final approval of the project on hold. When it will make a decision is currently unclear.
Nebraskan politics stand in the way
According to White House officials, the decision to delay the presidential go-ahead comes as Nebraska lawmakers debate whether or not the 1,179-mile pipeline can be built through the state. US District Court Judge Stephanie Stacy overturned a law in February that originally approved the project, stating in her ruling that the law violated Nebraska's state constitution. If the ruling isn't overturned, the route of the pipeline may change, affecting future assessments of its environmental impact. The AP reports that the Nebraska Supreme Court isn't expected to hear an appeal until September or October, meaning that the administration will likely schedule their decision for after the congressional elections in November.
The Keystone XL has faced considerable contention since it was proposed in 2008. Even though the State Department raised no major objections to it in January, the Environmental Protection Agency has long made its concerns known about the potential for heightened greenhouse gas emissions. President Obama, who previously stated that he'd veto the project if the State Department took issue with it, now has until the fall at the earliest to decide its fate.