Media reports late Thursday and early Friday, mostly fueled by anonymous statements from high-level State Department officials, suggest that the long-anticipated final environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline will be released by day's end.
And it doesn't look good.
According to Bloomberg, citing people who have been briefed on the report, its findings and recommendations "will probably disappoint environmental groups and opponents of the Keystone pipeline."
A State Department official who spoke to Reuters emphasized that the final environmental review for the pipeline should be not seen as the final "decision" on the project "but another step in the process prescribed by the executive order."
Sources on Capitol Hill and in the administration said recent talk about the review was that the environmental community would be disappointed, suggesting a favourable view, on net, of the pipeline's benefits.
But the findings will not be a one-way street. "Environmentalists will likely be disappointed until they read the whole report," said an official who had seen a draft but declined to discuss the findings in detail.
A report pending from the State Department's independent Inspector General was likely to be issued at the same time as the State Department's review, sources said.
The Inspector General has been investigating a possible conflict of interest surrounding the company that did the original environmental review, Environmental Resources Management.
And The Hill adds:
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If the report is released Friday, it sets up an accelerated timeline that could have the Obama Administration making a final decision on construction by the early summer. Once the State Department releases its environmental study, the government will begin an interagency comment and review process examining whether the pipeline is within the nation's interest.
After that, the president could issue his final determination on the project.
The White House has refused to publicly comment on the progress of the pipeline's evaluation in recent weeks, citing the ongoing State Department evaluation.
Environmentalists and campaigners focused on the crisis of climate change have become increasinly frustrated with the Obama administration on issues surrounding fossil fuel development projects and none has drawn as much attention, or done more to galvanize the movement, than the Keystone XL pipeline.
Following his State of the Union speech earlier this week, green groups have been voicing loud and public denunciations of the president's leadership on climate and energy issues, saying that if doesn't take bold steps--and soon--his environmental legacy will be that of a president who talked tough on the issue, but did scarcely enough as the planet continued to burn hotter and faster under his watch.
As Sierra Club president Michael Brune said in an interview with the Associated Press on Thursday, "There is a cognitive dissonance inside the administration. We believe their commitment to fight climate change is genuine, and yet the energy policy goals of the administration make achieving climate change much more difficult."
Ahead of Obama's Tuesday night address, campaigners with 350.org once again marched to the White House in protest carrying a large inflatable pipeline meant to represent the Keystone XL project.
“President Obama needs to decide whether he wants to be remembered as a climate champion or the pipeline president. He can’t have it both ways,” said 350.org's Jason Kowalski.
In anticipation of the Obama administration's ultimate approval of the project, tens of thousands of people have already signed a "pledge of resistance" orchestrated by the group Credo Action, vowing to mobilize nationwide with acts of civil disobedience against the construction of the pipeline which scientists have said would mean "game over for the climate" if completed.