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State Department evaluating options for controversial pipeline

By Jill Dougherty, CNN
updated 3:34 PM EST, Wed November 9, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Options on the Keystone XL pipeline include a new route or denying approval
  • The State Department is reviewing proposals made at public hearings
  • Opponents claim the pipeline would pose a major environmental threat

Washington (CNN) -- The State Department is considering a variety of options on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, including an alternative route or even not granting permission for the pipeline to be built.

The department, as part of its "national determination period" of the review process, is considering all proposals that were made at public hearings held across the country, deputy spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Wednesday.

"No decision has been made," Toner said. "We're looking at environmental issues, energy security, jobs and economic impact and foreign policy. All those issues within those subsets are on the table and being considered."

All issues "that were raised during these public hearings that we held ... are currently under review," Toner said. "It's not just one issue, it's a range of issues."

Asked whether not approving the pipeline at all was part of that review, Toner said: "I think that's always something that's under consideration."

If constructed, the pipeline would bring crude oil from Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. Opponents claim the pipeline would pose a major environmental threat and say the approval process is being rigged to give permission to major oil interests.

President Barack Obama gave Secretary of State Hillary Clinton authority to have the final word on the project because of its international implications.

Toner denied any favoritism. "We've been consistent in running a process that is thorough, rigorous and transparent," he said.

The State Department says it is "hopeful" the final determination by Clinton will be made by the end of this year, but Toner cautioned, "There is no artificial deadline to making this decision. ... Our emphasis has been on making the right decision based on national interests and there's no specific deadline for that."

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