The U.S. State Department released a draft supplemental environmental impact (SEIS) assessment of the Keystone XL pipeline last week, suggesting that the project will not have a huge impact on the environment, reports the Washington Post.
From the report: “Based on information and analysis about the North American crude transport infrastructure (particularly the proven ability of rail to transport substantial quantities of crude oil profitably under current market conditions, and to add capacity relatively rapidly) and the global crude oil market, the draft Supplemental EIS concludes that approval or denial of the proposed Project 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.”
The State Department’s analysis, notes the Post, does not give environmental groups the answers they had hoped for regarding the Keystone project’s climate impact. The nearly 2,000 page report “questions one of the strongest arguments for the pipeline,” which is whether the U.S. could meet its energy needs over the next 10 years without it. “The growth in rail transport of oil from western Canada and the Bakken Formation on the Great Plains and other pipelines, the analysis says, could meet the country’s energy needs for the next decade, even if Keystone XL never gets built,” writes the Post.
A 45-day public comment period is now underway. President Obama will make a decision, likely this summer, whether to grant TransCanada the permit it needs for the pipeline to connect Alberta’s oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries. (NACS: www.nacsonline.com)