Lefty protesters have scored another (temporary) victory: The Obama administration has decided to delay its decision on building the Keystone XL pipeline until, most likely, after the next election.

The State Department not long ago seemed primed to approve the project, which would carry crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada to Texas refineries. But then two things happened:

  • Environmentalists led major protests outside the White House and threatened to withhold their votes for the president in the next election. Were they bluffing? It doesn't matter.
  • Nebraska, an extremely red state, lobbied hard against it since the proposed route would run through the Sand Hills region and the Ogallala aquifer, where much of the state's delicious drinking water comes from. Nebraskans were not too keen on drinking gross oil water forever.

So now we have this punt. Politico reports:

Two congressional sources who have been briefed on the matter said the department is expected to announce Thursday that it will do a review of an alternative route, which is expected to punt a final decision on the pipeline until after the election. State Department officials are not expected to specify an exact timeline for the review, though one aide said a decision is not expected before the first quarter of 2013.

Now some might say that Obama is merely kicking this back until he's a lame duck president, at which point he'll instantly approve it. Probably. But this is going to put some stress on the pipeline's investors. We'll see if the project makes it until 2013.

[Image via AP]