U.S. to decide the Keystone XL pipeline's fate

09-30-2011 // Marina Landis

This excerpt is from CNN Money

The discussion on whether or not to build the Keystone XL pipeline extension that would run 1,700 miles from the oil sands region of Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico is almost over.

Now, as a week of public comment meetings along the proposed route concludes, the State Department is expected to decide if the project is in the national interest and should go forward.

The decision rests on the State Department since it will cross America's borders. It's expected to be made sometime before the end of the year.

The pipeline, which would pass through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, has received support from the governors of all the states along the route, except Nebraska, where it would pass over a critical water source.

"I want to emphasize that I am not opposed to pipelines. I am opposed to the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline route because it is directly over the Ogallala Aquifer," Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman said. In a letter to President Obama, Heineman asked that the pipeline be rerouted because it could have detrimental effects on this aquifer that provides water to farmers and ranchers.

Should the State Department approve the pipeline, the $7 billion dollar project would be built by TransCanada (TRP), a large Canadian energy infrastructure company.

The State Department released its final version of the Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed project on August 26, 2011, and concluded that the pipeline wouldn't pose a major threat to the resources along its route.

"TransCanada is pleased that the final environmental impact statement reaffirmed the environmental integrity of the project," the company said in a statement.

However, the pipeline is still meeting a lot of opposition from environmentalists who say that Canada's oil sands require more energy and water than conventional oil production and creates more greenhouse gases than regular oil.

"It is so thick that it has to be diluted with natural gas liquids to flow in a pipeline," Ryan Salmon, the energy policy advisor at the National Wildlife Federation said. "This mixture is more corrosive and abrasive than conventional oil, increasing the likelihood of pipeline spills."

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