TransCanada executives express optimism that Keystone XL has taken a big step forward with the release of the final environmental impact study by the State Department.
The State Department released its final environmental impact analysis of the $5.4 billion project that will carry crude oil from oil sands (which opponents dub tar sands) from western Canada to hook up with the southern portion of the pipeline, winding its way down to refineries along the Gulf Coast in Texas.
The study concludes Keystone XL will create not significant environmental harm. Officials do caution other factors must be weighed before President Baracak Obama approves the project. Keystone must receive a presidential permit to cross the Canadian border in the United States.
TransCanada President Russ Girling says the report confirms the oil pipeline is safe and won’t hurt the environment.
“The case for Keystone XL, in our view, both pre and post this report is as strong as ever,” Girling tells reporters in a conference call. “All of our customers continue to support it. The states along the route have approved it. Keystone XL is one of the biggest infrastructure projects on the books in the United States today. And, we are ready, willing, and wanting to put 9,000 American men and women to work as quickly as we can.”
The State Department estimates Keystone XL will create 40,000 jobs overall, both direct and indirect.
Environmental and industrial studies of Keystone XL take up 15,000 pages. There have been four federal environmental reviews. More than 100 public hearings have been held, including some very high-profile hearings in Nebraska that changed the route through our state, adding to the cost.
Girling notes it has been a long process.
“This was a step that had a lot of twist and turns, starting with the re-route in Nebraska and the process that he had to go through in Nebraska to get to a place where we had a route that Nebraskans supported,” Girling says.
Proponents and opponents still have time to make their case. A 30-day comment period opens on February 5th. Federal agencies have the next 90 days to weigh in.
An opponent of the pipeline, Jane Kleeb with Bold Nebraska, does find some encouraging portions in the report.
“The environmental review has really done a significant shift in favor of landowners and citizens who oppose this pipeline,” Kleeb tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “There used to be several parts of the environmental review that talked about how this would have no significant impact and now the State Department has really backed away from that with their additional analysis.”
Jane Monnich, KLIN, contributed to this report.
AUDO: TransCanada President Russ Girling reacts to State Department release of final environmental study of Keystone XL [8 min.]