* State to hold last public meeting on pipeline on Tuesday
* Nebraska governor could bless the project in January-API
* Obama administration approval still pending
WASHINGTON, Dec 4 Nebraska's state government
will soon announce a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline from
Canada, a milestone in a long approval process, but it is
unclear when the Obama administration will decide, a U.S. oil
industry lobby group said Tuesday.
The American Petroleum Institute believes Nebraska could be
set to bless the route as early as January, and urged President
Barack Obama to quickly rule on the project, which has been
wending its way through the approval process for five years.
The TransCanada Corp pipeline is designed to carry
oil from Canada, North Dakota and Montana, and needs a
presidential permit because it would cross an international
Last year, Obama put the pipeline on hold, citing
environmental concerns with a portion of the route in Nebraska.
The API said it is unclear when the Obama administration will
take its next steps on the project.
The State Department has said it does not anticipate
concluding its review before the first quarter of 2013.
Stopping the pipeline is a top issue for environmental
groups. They argue the project would accelerate climate change
through the development of Canada's oil sands, and plan to
continue to fight it.
Nebraska's Department of Environmental Quality is slated to
hold a public meeting on Tuesday evening in the tiny town of
Albion, population 1,650, about 125 miles west of Omaha.
The meeting at the county fairgrounds is the last stage in
gathering comments on the route for the pipeline, which was
changed last year to avoid a sensitive environmental region.
After the department finalizes its report on the pipeline -
which the American Petroleum Institute thinks could come by the
end of December - it will give it to Nebraska Governor John
Heineman for his approval.
Heineman's decision is likely to come in January, said John
Kerekes, the API's central region director.
"This will conclude the longest pipeline application
deliberation in history, which, with Nebraska's expected
support, we believe will result in final approval for the
project to commence," Kerekes told reporters.
But the timetable for the final federal review is less
clear. The State Department is working on a draft "supplemental
environmental impact statement" study, which it will release for
public comment when it is complete.
The report will help the State Department determine whether
the project is in the national interest, a decision it makes in
consultation with other administration officials, considering
issues such as climate change concerns and jobs.