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The State Department has said the risk of spills along the 36-inch Keystone XL pipeline is low. And TransCanada has touted its efforts to prevent spills from Keystone XL, including using super-strong carbon steel, electric anti-corrosion protections and automated shut-off valves close together near water crossings. State officials have not said whether its final analysis will include a detailed look at how to tackle a dilbit spill.
The Obama administration could make its final decision on whether to permit the border-crossing Keystone XL pipeline next year, after the State Department issues its final environmental analysis and, later, decides whether the project is in the national interest. Other federal agencies also have a chance to weigh in on the decision.
Obama vowed in June that Keystone XL will only win approval if it does not "significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution." The State Department’s final environmental analysis is expected to delve deep into the question of whether Keystone XL will spur dramatic growth in the development of Canadian oil sands, by providing a critical link to Gulf Coast refineries.
Separately, the State Department’s inspector general is investigating whether the company contracted to perform the analysis, Environmental Resource Management, misrepresented its past work on other projects for TransCanada. The probe could be finished in February, and, depending on the findings, could stoke calls for a redo of the entire analysis.
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