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Regardless of Keystone future, oil rolls on rails in Minnesota

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Debate over the proposed the Keystone XL pipeline has been fierce, and the project has become emblematic of a national debate over climate change.

Proponents say the project that would bring Canadian oil to the U.S. Great Plains would create badly needed jobs and be a key step toward North American energy independence. Critics say it would pose a big threat to the Earth’s climate because it would add billions of metric tons of global warming pollution to the atmosphere.

A long-awaited State Department draft report released last week made no clear recommendation on whether the U.S. should approve the pipeline, but it also downplayed some of the warnings from environmental activists, Politico noted.

What does any of that have to do with Minnesota? Regardless of the project's future, large quantities of the Canadian oil that the pipeline is designed to carry will still be ferried into the United States on Minnesota railroad tracks, the Star Tribune reports.

The oil-by-rail shipping business in Canada affects Minnesota because two major carriers, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific, have gateways into the United States through the state, the newspaper reports. A CN route goes through Duluth and CP has a track through the Twin Cities, the newspaper reports.

The railroads say oil-loading terminals already operate on their rail networks, and more are being built for the same crude that the Keystone XL pipeline would carry, the newspaper reports.

The XL project, proposed by TransCanada aims to construct a 1,179-mile pipeline from Canadian tar sands in Hardisty, Alberta, through Montana and South Dakota to Steele City, Neb., as part of a broader pipeline network.

President Barack Obama early last year rejected the application for the XL route, citing environmental concerns, but the project is still very much alive, Reuters reported.

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