The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Obama Administration has decided to defer its decision on the Keystone XL pipeline until after the 2012 election. The decision came through the State Department, which in a statement said that it would be evaluating alternative routes that might avoid an environmentally sensitive region of Nebraska.

The decision has been described as a “victory for environmental groups,” many of which have been highly vocal in their opposition to the proposed pipeline. The decision drew criticism from oil industry representatives and unions, who had argued that the pipeline “will create thousands of jobs and reduce U.S. dependence on oil imports from the Middle East.”

“Because this permit decision could affect the health and safety of the American people as well as the environment, and because a number of concerns have been raised through a public process, we should take the time to ensure that all questions are properly addressed and all the potential impacts are properly understood,” President Obama said in a written statement

“The president is putting politics ahead of American jobs,” said a spokeswoman for the American Petroleum Institute.