The State Department's Office of Inspector General announced Friday it does not expect to release the results of an investigation into a possible conflict of interest in the department's Keystone XL pipeline review until January — a move that could delay a final decision on the project until next year.
Earlier this month, the OIG began an inquiry into allegations made by the Sierra Club and other environmental groups that Environmental Resources Management, a consulting firm hired to produce the draft environmental impact statement for the pipeline, had ties to TransCanada Corp. and the American Petroleum Institute, two organizations with a key stake in the project.
TransCanada Corp. is the company set to build Keystone, and the American Petroleum Institute is a trade association, which publicly supports the pipeline.
The conflict-of-interest inquiry and the State Department's review of the pipeline have been ongoing, and State has not yet said when it will make a final determination on Keystone XL. But Friday's announcement that the OIG investigation results won't be released until January makes it likely that a decision on the project will be pushed back to 2014.
"It is our hope to conclude work by the end of the year and release a report in January," Douglas Welty, a spokesman for the OIG, said in an e-mail Friday. "As to the timing of the department's decision — you need to ask them directly whether our work will have any impact on that."