WASHINGTON -- The State Department on Friday removed a major roadblock to a planned $7-billion oil pipeline from western Canada to the Texas coast in a report that says it is unlikely to cause significant environmental problems.

The 1,000-page report on the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline says no significant problems have emerged since a similar report was issued last year.

Calgary-based TransCanada wants to build a massive pipeline to carry crude oil extracted from tar sands in Alberta to refineries in Texas.

It would carry about 700,000 barrels of oil a day, doubling the capacity of an existing pipeline from Canada. Supporters say it could cut U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil.

The project has become a flash point for environmental groups who say the pipeline would bring "dirty oil" that requires huge amounts of energy to extract and could cause an ecological disaster in a spill. Opponents have urged the Obama administration to block the project as a sign he is serious about protecting the environment. TransCanada says the project would create tens of thousands of jobs and be built to strict environmental standards.

-- AP

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