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On Keystone XL State Dept. Finds Benefits, No Significant Environmental Impacts

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted March 1, 2013

The Keystone XL pipeline now is four-for-four – that is, four environmental impact assessments by the State Department and four findings that the project wouldn’t have significant impacts. From State’s draft Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) released Friday:

The analyses of potential impacts associated with construction and normal operation of the proposed Project suggest that there would be no significant impacts to most resources along the proposed Project route …

That conclusion is conditioned on assumptions including: the incorporation of 57 special conditions developed with the help of the Pipeline Hazardous Material Safety Administration (which builder TransCanada already has agreed to incorporate in its plan), use of mitigation measures as required by permitting agencies and implementation of other measures to avoid or reduce environmental impacts that TransCanada included in its application for a presidential permit.

API Executive Vice President Marty Durbin:

“No matter how many times KXL is reviewed, the result is the same: no significant environmental impact. The latest impact statement from the State Department puts this important, job-creating project one step closer to reality. 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.”

Other key points from the SEIS and a briefing by Assistant Secretary of State Kerri-Ann Jones:

  • The project would potentially support about 42,100 average annual jobs across the U.S. over a one- to two-year construction period.
  • The employment would potentially translate into approximately $2.05 billion in earnings.
  • The project would represent direct spending on construction and materials totaling about $3.3 billion.
  • Approval or denial of the project is “unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the (Canadian) oil sands, or in the amount of heavy crude oil refined in the Gulf Coast area.”

The State Department next will open a 45-day public commenting period, and a final SEIS then will be produced. But the big picture remains unchanged: The president should approve this project. The other key development with the pipeline this week was the AFL-CIO’s announcement that it supports pipelines. “There’s nothing environmentally unsound about the (Keystone XL) pipeline,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

This is a project that would strengthen U.S. energy security through a closer partnership with Canada and greater development of its oil sands resources. That’s more than 800,000 barrels a day of North American oil, 25 percent of which would be picked up from North Dakota’s Bakken region. It would create jobs and help generate revenues for governments. Americans strongly favor this shovel-ready, thoroughly studied project – 69 percent in a recent poll. It’s time for the wait to end. Durbin:

“The president could truly implement his ‘all of the above’ energy strategy by approving Keystone XL. We hope the president will choose to side with the American people who strongly support the pipeline in poll after poll. The project will create thousands of good paying jobs for the safest, most highly trained workers of the building trades at a time when construction workers have an unemployment rate higher than the national average. Keystone XL will also enhance our energy security. It would be a win-win for the U.S.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.