Flawed Review Gives Tar Sands Pipeline Rubber Stamp for Now

NWF Vows Process for Pipeline Far From Over

08-26-2011 // Tony Iallonardo
Red River

The State Department, which is overseeing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline permitting process, issued a final environmental impact statement (FEIS). The FEIS wraps up a highly controversial environmental review and starts the next stage of the permitting process referred to as the “national interest determination.” For opponents, the FEIS seems to confirm Secretary Clinton’s prejudgment of the result last year when the review was far from over.

NWF senior vice president Jim Lyon said,

“After two failed rounds of environmental review, this looks like strike three for the State Department. The document still fails to address the key concerns for landowners and wildlife. It is almost certain to be scrutinized in other venues, including a probable legal challenge. This only escalates the controversy in a process that is far from over.”

Conservation groups and the Environmental Protection Agency have previously warned that the State Department was not properly weighing the risks of piping corrosive heavy tar sands crude through sensitive ecosystems like the Ogallala Aquifer, the Nebraska Sandhills, and the Platte River given the likelihood of a major spill. They also warned that the agency was not adequately accounting for threats to wildlife, increased pollution in distressed communities where the crude may be refined, or increases in carbon emissions that would exacerbate climate change, and a variety of other issues.

Those issues are likely to be raised again in this next stage, when State will hold public meetings in cities along the pipeline’s proposed route and in Washington, DC, while also soliciting the views of several other federal agencies, before making a final decision.

Environmental concerns are only one area where the pipeline falls short. The pipeline is likely to slow the growth of domestic clean energy jobs, endanger national security by fostering dependence on fossil fuels, and result in higher gas and oil prices in many states as supply gets exported overseas.

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