TransCanada’s move comes as the economic argument for building the $8 billion pipeline is weaker than ever. Low oil prices make costly tar-sands drilling less attractive, while clean-energy sources like solar power are increasingly affordable.
The request for a suspension was widely seen as a political move to delay a decision until after Barack Obama leaves office. But Democratic presidential candidates are all opposed to the pipeline, and Canada’s new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has supported it with less enthusiasm than his predecessor.
Obama has made climate change a second-term priority, and experts say he may seek to appease environmental groups by rejecting Keystone before key climate talks in Paris next month. The White House said Nov. 3 that Obama would make a decision before leaving office but continued to give no firm date.
This appears in the November 16, 2015 issue of TIME.
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