View of the Syncrude oil sands extraction facility near the town of Fort McMurray in Alberta Province, Canada on October 25, 2009. Greenpeace is calling for an end to oil sands mining in the region due to their greenhouse gas emissions and have recently staged sit-ins which briefly halted production at several mines. At an estimated 175 billion barrels, Alberta's oil sands are the second largest oil reserve in the world behind Saudi Arabia, but they were neglected for years, except by local companies, because of high extraction costs. Since 2000, skyrocketing crude oil prices and improved extraction methods have made exploitation more economical, and have lured several multinational oil companies to mine the sands.  National Journal

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Canadian officials like what they're hearing about an upcoming State Department report that will provide a crucial hint about whether the White House will approve the Keystone XL pipeline, the Canadian Press reports.

"What we're hearing is that it's going to be positive for the project--and therefore positive for Canada," a Canadian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the news outlet.

The State Department is believed to be putting the finishing touches on its latest environmental analysis of the proposed pipeline, which would bring hundreds of thousands of barrels per day from Alberta's oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries.

A draft report last March concluded the pipeline would not cause a big increase in greenhouse-gas emissions. A final report upholding that conclusion--which environmentalists are fiercely contesting--would be a sign that the project faces good odds of White House approval.

According to the Canadian Press, Canadian officials in Ottawa and Washington are "being told the report could be ready for release within days and will bolster the case for the controversial energy project."

This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.

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