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Insiders say Obama expected to approve Keystone XL

The National Journal’s survey of insiders from the energy industry and environmentalists predicts, unsurprisingly, that President Obama is all but certain to approve the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

Despite intense lobbying from environmentalists and opposition from many in President Obama’s own party, virtually all National Journal Energy and Environment Insiders say that Obama’s State Department will approve a controversial 1,700-mile pipeline project to bring carbon-heavy tar-sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas.

Environmental groups have been working in Congress and the courts to delay or block a decision, citing environmental concerns and, more recently, questions about the impartiality of some State Department officials.

But more than 70 percent of Insiders said they think the State Department will approve the Keystone XL project by year’s end. Another 21 percent said the administration would approve the project eventually, just not by the end of this year. Only 9 percent of those responding think the project will not get final administration approval. Because the project crosses international boundaries, the State Department is tasked with determining whether building the pipeline is in the national interest.

This has been clear for a long time. The open question for environmental activists is whether they can influence the White House to set stronger conditions and regulations on the project.

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