Last Friday, the U.S. Department of State, (DOS), issued a notice of intent to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement that will re-start the federal environmental review of TransCanada's Keystone XL Pipeline Project.
This review was triggered by TransCanada's renewed application for a presidential permit, which they filed on May 4, and is a critical step in the final federal review process for the project.
TransCanada responded to the DOS Notice on the same day, noting the department expects to make a decision on Keystone XL by the first quarter of 2013. TransCanada pointed out, the final federal review of the project should be based exclusively on a proposed new route through Nebraska.
"The fact that the Department of State has reaffirmed its timeline for making a decision on a presidential permit for Keystone XL early next year, is an important development and we look forward to the detailed schedule of the steps needed to meet that (first quarter) 2013 timeframe," said Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer.
"The final review should focus solely on the realigned route that avoids the Nebraska Sandhills," Girling said. "The rest of the Keystone XL route remains the same. The geology of the route remains the same. The environmental conditions remain the same. Nothing else has changed since the FEIS."
In its notice of intent last week, the DOS said the current review it is undertaking on Keystone XL "will supplement the (August 2011) FEIS, by including information and analysis about potential impacts associated with the new proposed routes within Nebraska."
In the 2011 FEIS, the DOS identified no significant adverse impacts regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline. In consultation with the U.S. federal pipeline regulator, the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the DOS also noted, that with the additional 57 safety measures that TransCanada has agreed to adopt, the project "would have a degree of safety over any other typically constructed domestic oil pipeline under current code."
"The Keystone XL pipeline will be the safest, most advanced pipeline ever built in North America and no one has a stronger interest than our company and our employees in ensuring that it operates safely and reliably for decades to come," said Girling.
By the time a final decision is made, Keystone XL will be well into its fifth year of studies, the most extensive review ever conducted for a cross-border pipeline.
This review includes the re-route process under way in Nebraska, taking place under the leadership of the state's Department of Environmental Quality, (DEQ).
TransCanada looks forward to continuing its work with the DEQ on the proposed pipeline re-route in Nebraska and resuming work with the DOS on the final federal review of the project.