WASHINGTON, March 1 (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department will release on Friday a long-awaited draft environmental assessment of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that would link Canada's oil sands to Texas refineries, several government sources said.
The State Department will release the assessment of TransCanada Corp's pipeline, which will examine a new route in Nebraska as well as emissions associated with the pipeline, the sources said.
The department declined an official comment.
Many environmentalists oppose Keystone because the oil sands are more carbon intensive to produce than average crudes refined in the United States.
Backers say the project will support thousands of jobs and that emissions should not be considered because the oil would find its way to markets in the United States, China or elsewhere.
A final decision on the line is not expected until mid-year. The draft assessment will be open to public comment, expected to last 45 days. After the assessment is finalized, the State Department will decide whether the project is in the national interest, a process that could also take more than a month.