State Dept. gives good news to oil sands - Macleans.ca

State Dept. gives good news to oil sands

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I have a story in this week’s magazine about why Alberta’s energy minister was wrong when he said Obama should “sign the bloody order” already to permit TransCanada’s proposed  Keystone XL pipeline that would bring oil sands crude from Alberta through the American mid-West to the Gulf Coast.

There is a review process underway by the State Dept. looking at a variety of impacts of the pipeline — and the increase in imports that would accompany it. If Obama were to intervene in the review process, which was legislated by Congress, he would open the final decision up to litigation by environmental groups or other critics — and subject it to unknown delays.

But it seems that Alberta may find some comfort in the massive Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement that the State Dept. issued today.

TransCanada is still reading the report, but environmentalists are already attacking it. An Alberta business professor opines that it is full of good news for the oil sands.

The executive summary suggests that State has not uncovered any major new issues since their previous review, which was judged inadequate by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The executive summary of today’s report says:

Conclusions: The draft EIS provided information on key environmental issues to allow a full understanding of the analysis of environmental effects.  Although DOS received thousands of comments on a wide variety of topics addressed in the draft EIS during the comment period, no new issues of substance emerged from the comments received. DOS nonetheless determined that submitting the portions of the EIS that were revised to address the new and additional information and to address comments on the draft EIS for public and agency review would further the purposes of NEPA and prepared and issued this SDEIS.  However, the information provided in this SDEIS does not alter the conclusions reached in the draft EIS regarding the need for and the potential impacts of the proposed Project.

Also, State did not grant environmental groups that additional 120 days for public hearings that they asked for.

There will be 45 days for public comment, and then State will make a “National Interest Determination”, which will be subject to comment as well. State has said they will make a decision on the permit by the end of the year.

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