State Department releases draft SEIS for revised Keystone XL

The US Department of State released a draft supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) for the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline’s new presidential permit application.

The SEIS includes a comprehensive review of the pipeline’s new proposed route across Nebraska, new information and circumstances on its largely unchanged route across Montana and South Dakota, and expanded and updated information that was not included in the project’s original final EIS in 2011, officials said.

It makes no recommendations on whether the project’s new cross-border permit application should be approved or denied, they emphasized.

TransCanada Corp., the project’s sponsor, noted that while it is still reviewing the draft SEIS, the document builds on more than 10,000 pages of already completed reviews and reaffirms that “there would be no significant impacts to most resources along the proposed project route.”

TransCanada Chief Executive Russ Girling said, “Completing the draft SEIS for Keystone XL is an important step towards receiving a presidential Permit for this critical energy infrastructure project. No one has a stronger interest than TransCanada does in making sure that Keystone XL operates safely, and more than 4 years of exhaustive study and environmental review show the care and attention we have placed on ensuring this is the safest oil pipeline built to date in the United States.”

Industry groups pleased

Officials at the American Petroleum Institute, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, and Association of Oil Pipelines separately welcomed the draft SEIS’s release.

“No matter how many times [Keystone XL] is reviewed, the result is the same: no significant environmental impact,” API Executive Vice-Pres. Marty Durbin said.

“The latest impact statement from the State Department puts this important, job-creating project one step closer to reality,” he observed. “Nebraska has finished its final Keystone XL assessment and the governor has given it his full support. The last approval needed is by President Obama, and we urge him to do so as soon as possible.”

AFPM Pres. Charles T. Drevna said, “Finally, 1,625 days after TransCanada Corp. 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 scrutinized pipeline in US history. While we have not had the opportunity to review the SEIS released today, the states along the Keystone route have all conducted environmental reviews and concluded the project should move forward. AFPM hopes that the administration will move expeditiously to approve a project that is years overdue.”

‘Minimal impact’

AOPL Pres. Andrew J. Black also welcomed the document’s release. “Repeated reviews of Keystone XL have shown it will have minimal impact on the environment, making it a good project for American drivers, workers, and the environment,” he noted.

TransCanada will adhere to 57 special safety conditions, including more rigorous pipeline design, manufacturing, construction, records and reporting, testing, operational, and maintenance standards developed in coordination with the US Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Black added.

Karen A. Harbert, president of the US Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Energy, said the draft SEIS for the project’s new cross-border permit application was long overdue, and continues to build a strong case for Keystone XL’s construction. “We’ll be working over the next 45 days to ensure that the voice of the majority of American people, who favor this project, is heard loud and clear by the Obama administration,” she said.

Environmental organizations were more critical. “The facts remain absolutely clear: the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is not in our national interest,” said Danielle Droitsch, the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Canada project director.

“Mining the tar sands would be a disaster for our climate. Piping it through the heartland would put our ranchers and farmers at risk. And sending it to the Gulf of Mexico only makes our country a dirty oil gateway to overseas markets,” she asserted.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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