New Report May Provide Green Light for Keystone XL

The environmental impact statement on the Keystone XL oil pipeline released Friday by the U.S. State Department delivered news that environmentalists will not be happy to hear. The study finds that the project will not exacerbate oil extraction.
February 1, 2014, 5am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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By concluding that building the Keystone XL pipeline would not significantly "change the overall development of the [Alberta] oil sands", the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) released by the State Department on Friday removes a major obstacle to approval of the controversial pipeline. Essentially, the report concludes that, "[b]ecause of global demand, the oil will most likely get to market whether or not the pipeline is built," writes Coral Davenport. As Planetizen readers are likely aware, oil delivery by rail has accelerated in the absence of pipeline capacity.

"In a major speech on the environment last summer, Mr. Obama said that he would approve the pipeline only if it would not 'significantly exacerbate' the problem of carbon pollution. He said the pipeline’s net effects on the climate would be 'absolutely critical' to his decision," notes Davenport. "The conclusions of the report appear to indicate that the project has passed Mr. Obama’s climate criteria, an outcome expected to outrage environmentalists, who have rallied, protested, marched and been arrested in demonstrations around the country against the pipeline."

"The report released on Friday, however, is far from the final decision on the project," Davenport adds. The Departments of Defense, Justice, Interior, Commerce, Transportation, Energy and Homeland Security, and the Environmental Protection Agency will all have a chance to comment on the project.

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Published on Friday, January 31, 2014 in The New York Times
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