Tuesday, January 14, 2014
by Ari Natter
Analysts are divided over how an
administrationwide review of energy policy that will focus on infrastructure
might affect the Obama administration's decision on whether to approve the
Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.
The review, ordered via a presidential
memo Jan. 9, provides the “perfect cover” to delay a decision on the pipeline
until after the midterm congressional election in November, according to
Steven Paget, an analyst for Calgary, Canada-based FirstEnergy Capital.
But other analysts, such as Christi Tezak, managing director for
Washington-based ClearView Energy Partners, told Bloomberg BNA that
President Barack Obama's remarks over the summer that he would approve the
pipeline only “if it does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon
pollution” is already “enough cover.”
“We are hard-pressed to
envision what information would arise from the [review] that hasn't already
been more exhaustively compiled” in the State Department's Supplemental
Environmental Impact Statement, Tezak said.
For the Quadrennial Energy
Review, executive agencies will be required to provide regular
recommendations to be coordinated by an interagency task force, with the
first focused on the “infrastructure involved in transporting,
transmitting, and delivering energy.”
The task force will submit a
report to the president with recommendations every four years beginning Jan.
The President's Council of Advisers on Science and
Technology (PCAST) in 2010 recommended such a Quadrennial Energy Review to
be conducted with input from Congress, the energy industry, academia and
The Department of State will be among the
agencies involved in the review because the $5.3 billion Alberta-to-Nebraska
leg of the Keystone XL project crosses an international boundary.
State Department initially was expected to release a final environmental
review of the project by December, but no target date has been announced.
The report then would be subject to a 90-day interagency review.
Energy Department referred questions about how the review would affect the
Keystone pipeline decision to the White House and State Department, neither
of which answered a request for comment.
In the presidential memo
ordering the review, the White House said the initial report would focus on
energy infrastructure because “our current infrastructure is increasingly
challenged by transformations in energy supply, markets, and patterns of
use; issues of aging and capacity; impacts of climate change; and cyber and
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