Keystone pipeline hits milestone with US State Department review

02 March 2013 00:20  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US State Department on Friday issued an expected Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as part of the process in the development of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The 875-mile (1,408-km) long pipeline, a project of TransCanada, would cross the border between the US and Canada, transporting oil from Hardisty, Alberta, and the Bakken shale formation in the US to Nebraska and eventually to refineries along the US Gulf coast.

While the State Department did not judge the project, since other federal agencies will have an opportunity to review the draft and public comments will be welcomed, the EIS concluded ”that approval or denial of the proposed project is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the oil sands or on the amount of heavy crude oil refined in the Gulf coast area”.

The draft also said “that TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline would have little effect on most resources along the project's proposed route if the company takes certain mitigation measures”.

On 22 January Nebraska’s Governor Dave Heineman announced the approval of a revised route for the Keystone XL pipeline. Approval from Nebraska was the main obstacle preventing the construction of the project, as the governor previously had not supported the pipeline plan through his state.

With that hurdle cleared, the next step was the review from the State Department.

Supporters of the project immediately chimed in.

Senior Vice President Daniel Kish from the Institute for Energy Research (IER) in Washington said "It is time for our leaders to make a decision…. Canada’s did a long time ago.  Too many are hurting and too much is at stake for any more time or money to be wasted on trivial matters and long-addressed and re-addressed chimeras advanced by opponents of any and all affordable sources of energy."

Also in Washington, the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) President Charles Drevna said: "Finally, 1,625 days after TransCanada first applied for a presidential permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline, it seems like we’re back on track for approval of the most scrutinised pipeline in US history. While we have not had the opportunity to review the EIS released today, the states along the Keystone route have all conducted environmental reviews and concluded the project should move forward."

He added: "We are confident that Keystone XL is one of several important initial steps in rebuilding our nation’s economy and a vital conduit to North American energy independence and US national security. AFPM hopes that the administration will move expeditiously to approve a project that is years overdue.”  

President Barrack Obama’s administration’s decision is not expected until about mid-year.

By: Ignacio Sotolongo
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