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State Department report on Keystone XL set for release

Lee-Anne Goodman, The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON - The U.S. State Department is poised to release its long-awaited environmental assessment of TransCanada's (TSX:TRP) Keystone XL pipeline.

U.S. environmental groups say it will downplay the risks of the pipeline.

Sources say the report, apparently set for release later today, acknowledges that Alberta's oilsands are carbon-intensive.

But the State Department assessment also apparently makes clear that all modes of transportation are risky and the pipeline itself isn't any more of a threat to the environment, according to a source at the environmental group 350.org.

The analysis would mean that Calgary-based TransCanada has cleared a significant hurdle in its marathon bid to win approval for Keystone XL from the Obama administration.

Now it's up to the president himself to decide whether to approve the pipeline, which would transport bitumen from Alberta's carbon-intensive oilsands to Gulf Coast refineries.

Keystone XL has long been a flashpoint for environmentalists, who have been cheered by Barack Obama's public pledges to combat climate change since his re-election in November.

Environmentalists consider the pipeline a symbol of "dirty oil."