The future of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline may be in limbo.
Thursday afternoon the U.S. State Department announced that a final decision on the proposed oil pipeline won't likely come until 2013.
The state department is looking at re-routing the project around a critical aquifer and environmentally sensitive areas in Nebraska.
The $7 billion Transcanada Keystone XL oil pipeline is proposed to bring Canadian crude oil from northern Alberta to the Gulf Coast by cutting at a diagonal through western South Dakota.
The company currently has one pipeline that cuts through eastern South Dakota, but the latest pipeline project would also cut through the Ogallala Aquifer that provides drinking water in the areas that sit over the top of it in states like South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas.
The state department says it's heard the concerns about the pipeline cutting through those areas and that's what's behind the delay.
South central South Dakota sits over the northern tip of the massive aquifer, and landowners in the Winner and Colome areas have voiced their concerns about the controversial Keystone XL pipeline plowing right through it.
Matt McGovern, who is the South Dakota Outreach Coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation, believes Washington DC is now taking those concerns seriously.
"I'm just grateful that the President listened to South Dakotans that spoke out against the pipeline, particularly landowners along the pipeline route that would be directly impacted," McGovern said.
McGovern says the state department's delay in the permit for the pipeline is a victory for landowners, environmentalists and opponents of this project.
"I feel kind of like we're the underdog and at the last minute we tied the game and sent it into overtime. It looks like this pipeline is going to be rejected to me, and I think it's a tremendous win for South Dakota," McGovern said.
Transcanada has said that if the pipeline is delayed, or re-routed, it will essentially kill the project. Now, with the permit being delayed until at least 2013 McGovern thinks building Keystone XL is now just a pipe dream.
“One thing Transcanada has said down in Lincoln (Nebraska) is they've said if you delay this project by changing the route that will ultimately make it impossible to build. So, I think we have to kind of take them at their word when they say that," McGovern said.
Thursday afternoon, John Harter, a landowner near Colome
who has property that sits over the Ogallala Aquifer and along the pipeline route said he's thrilled by the news, and hopes the entire project is ultimately rejected. Transcanada's CEO Russ Girling put out a statement Thursday afternoon
saying he was confident the project would still be approved but hinted that the project may be in jeopardy with more delays.
"If Keystone XL dies, Americans will still wake up the next morning and continue to import ten million barrels of oil from repressive nations, without the benefit of thousands of jobs and long term energy security. That would be a tragedy,” Girling said in a statement.