No Keystone XL pipeline this year: sources

WASHINGTON -- The Keystone XL pipeline will not be completed this year.

The United States administration appears set to ignore the Canadian government's demand to make a decision soon on the controversial pipeline, so that construction could begin this summer.

Sources say the administration will announce Friday another delay in a project already beset by political complications.

They say congressional staffers have been informed, via conference call, that U.S. federal agencies will be given more time to weigh in on the project, while a legal dispute plays out in Nebraska over the proposed route.

The case is not expected to be resolved until the end of this year, at the earliest.

There had been speculation about whether the Obama administration might try to punt the politically sensitive decision until after this year's midterm elections.

While the project appears to have support from the general public, it has divided Barack Obama's Democratic party -- pitting big-money environmentalist donors against red-state conservative Democrats afraid of losing their congressional seats this fall.

In an attempt to push the process along, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird spent several days in Washington recently pleading for a decision soon -- arguing that it would be unfair to keep construction workers and the industry hanging as the building season approached.

But the project was tossed into further disarray by a recent Nebraska court ruling that the state government there broke the law in its attempt to unilaterally dictate a route.

The case is being appealed to the state supreme court. Until then, even a presidential permit to allow the pipeline to cross the border would slam into uncertainty given the confusion over the route.

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