It looks like the federal government will be back up and running soon, but the damage may already be done where the Keystone XL Pipeline is concerned. That's good news, bad news or that which doesn't much matter if you're against the pipeline, for it or politely indifferent, respectively.
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The Keystone project is a pipeline that would tote bitumen, a sticky black viscous form of crude, more than 1,700 miles from the Alberta Tar Sands in Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. Environmentalists are against it because that type of oil is hard to clean up if there's a spill, and they're joined by landowners who hated -- go figure -- the company using eminent domain to put the line on their property. Those for it are either focused on the energy and the oil or the jobs that come with a pipeline. President Obama has been in the middle of all of this, neither completely killing the deal or endorsing it.
Since Canada really wants this whole thing to get going, and the Gulf Coast part of the pipeline is almost complete, it seemed like some kind of a decision would have been made right around now. However, that's where the government shutdown comes in. The shutdown has meant all kinds of things to all kinds of people, but it's translated as yet another delay over at the U.S. State Department. The folks over there have to conduct another review before the president signs off or declines to sign off on the deal. Even though those great engines of federal government may start chugging away again in a few days, the State Department's final environmental review, which was due out, you know, now, obviously won't be spit out anytime soon, according to Reuters.
While the State Department has been running all through the shutdown, the other departments that the people at State need to consult with -- the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior, for instance -- have been closed up for the shutdown. Since they can't do their job, President Obama can't make a decision either way (though the Canadians will certainly be displeased if he opts not to okay the deal.) So, another delay in this oft-delayed, controversial project.
TransCanada, the company behind all this, applied for this permit more than five years ago. Now, if things get up and running, the State Department will announce whether it signs off on the project and then it will come to President Obama. Sometime in 2014. Maybe.