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March 4, 2013 8:30 AM, EST
State Dept. Report Finds No Major Drawbacks to Keystone Pipeline

A U.S. State Department report said there would be no significant environmental drawbacks to the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the United States, the Associated Press reported.

Separately, the Washington Post reported Sunday that even if the project was blocked, oil from Canada’s tar sands could be shipped to the U.S. market via rail shipments.

The draft report, issued Friday, stopped short of recommending approval of the project, but gave the Obama administration political cover if it chooses to endorse the pipeline in the face of opposition from many Democrats and environmental groups, AP reported.

The State Department’s approval of the 1,700-mile pipeline — which would carry oil from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Neb. — is needed because it crosses the U.S. border.

The Obama administration already has approved a southern section of the pipeline, from Oklahoma to the Texas coast.

The report said Canadian tar sands will probably be developed regardless of whether the U.S. approves the pipeline, AP reported.