TransCanada hopes for 2015 Keystone startup date

TORONTO (AP) — TransCanada has pushed back the possible startup date of a controversial pipeline that would carry Canadian oil to refineries in Texas.

The Calgary, Alberta-based company said Tuesday in an earnings release that its executives continue to work with Nebraska to determine the best route that avoids Nebraska's environmentally sensitive Sandhills region.

Last month, the administration of President Barack Obama denied a permit for the project, but left the door open for TransCanada to apply for a new pipeline route. The company said last month it expected the new application would be processed in an expedited manner so that it could be in service in late 2014.

TransCanada has now moved that back to early 2015.

The company said it remains fully committed to the construction of Keystone XL and said "plans are already under way on a number of fronts to largely maintain the construction schedule of the project."

They reiterated that they will reapply for a permit and that they expect a new application would be processed in an expedited manner.

The U.S. State Department, however, has previously said it wouldn't necessarily expedite what would be a new review process.

Obama blocked the $7 billion pipeline last month, saying officials did not have enough time to review the project before a February deadline imposed by Congress.

The pipeline would carry 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta across six U.S. states to the Texas Gulf Coast, which has numerous refineries.

TransCanada first applied to build the pipeline in 2008, under the George W. Bush administration.

TransCanada says the pipeline could create as many as 20,000 jobs, a figure opponents say is inflated. A State Department report last summer said the pipeline would create up to 6,000 jobs during construction

The pipeline is a dicey proposition for Obama, who enjoyed strong support from both organized labor and environmentalists in his 2008 campaign for the White House.

Environmental advocates have made it clear that approval of the pipeline would dampen their enthusiasm for Obama in November. Some liberal donors even threatened to cut off funds to Obama's re-election campaign to protest the project, which opponents say would transport "dirty oil" that requires huge amounts of energy to extract and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

By rejecting the pipeline, Obama also risks losing support from organized labor, a key part of the Democratic base, for thwarting thousands of jobs.