U.S. State Dept. Releases Keystone XL Draft Environmental Report

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After years of bottlenecking, the controversial Keystone XL pipeline continues to make progress since the start of 2013. TransCanada Corp. welcomed the release of the U.S. State Department’s Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) on the project, which was first proposed in 2008.

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While TransCanada is still reviewing the DSEIS, it builds on more than 10,000 pages of review already completed for Keystone XL. The DSEIS reaffirmed that “there would be no significant impacts to most resources along the proposed project route.” It noted that Keystone XL would result in no “substantive change in global GHG emissions” and it 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.” Finally, it also noted that “the denial of a Presidential Permit would likely result in actions by other firms in the United States (and global) petroleum market, such as use of alternative modes to transport WCSB and Bakken crude.”

“Completing the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Keystone XL is an important step toward receiving a Presidential Permit for this critical energy infrastructure project,” said Russ Girling, TransCanada president and CEO. “No one has a stronger interest than TransCanada does in making sure that Keystone XL operates safely, and more than four 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.”

The August 2011 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) further notes that TransCanada has also agreed to adopt 57 special safety measures for the pipeline developed by the U.S. federal pipeline safety regulator (PHMSA), which the FEIS said would give the pipeline “a degree of safety over any other typically constructed domestic oil pipeline system under current code.” The 57 conditions include burying the pipe a minimum of 4 ft below the surface, increased pipeline inspections and a greater number of remote-controlled valves that can shut down the pipeline within minutes.

Throughout 2012, TransCanada completed the process established by the state of Nebraska and Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality to develop a revised route through Nebraska that avoids the Sand Hills area and minimizes potential impacts on other environmentally-sensitive features in the state. The revised route was approved in January 2013 by Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman.

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