The US State Department has issued an environmental assessment of a revised route for the Keystone XL crude pipeline concluding it would not harm water or wildlife. The decision clears the way for progress on the $8 billion 1,180 mile pipeline that would carry heavy crude from Canada’s oil sands in Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska. From there the crude would be sent to refineries and potentially for export.
A review by the department had been ordered by a federal judge in Montana last month, following new information relevant to a permit it issued for the pipeline last year. The department says even if the pipeline spilled crude oil along its revised route through Nebraska, a major concern raised by environmentalists, there would likely be no impact to groundwater according to the draft review which weighs in at nearly 340 pages. The report states, ‘prompt cleanup response would likely be capable of remediating the contaminated soils before the hazardous release reaches groundwater depth.’ The review stated that implementing the revised route would have ‘no significant direct, indirect or cumulative effects on the quality of the natural or human environments.’
Environmentalists have attacked the review, saying it is an example of the Trump administration trying to push through a project that would risk harming water resources and increase dependence on crude. The building of the pipeline has been controversial, and was axed by former President Barack Obama in 2015 on environmental concerns relating to emissions that cause climate change. However, following his election US President Donald Trump backed the pipeline, which is supported by Canadian oil producers, who face discounts for their crude due to transport bottlenecks, US refineries and pipeline builders. TransCanada Corp plans to start construction in 2019, and ceo Russ Girling said last month a final investment decision on the project would be made late this year or in early 2019, pending some regulatory approvals and court challenges.