- Posted January 31, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Is Bad News coming for the Keystone Cops?
I picked up on an interesting report coming out of Fox News this morning and thought it too interesting as the Keystone debate is about to heat up.
Pipeline boost? Keystone XL report may disappoint project's foes
The State Department is expected to release an environmental analysis on the Keystone XL oil pipeline as early as Friday that may disappoint environmentalists and opponents of the proposed project, according to individuals briefed on the matter.
The release of the long-anticipated evaluation, known as an "environmental impact statement," sets the stage for a 90-day review period, during which the Obama administration must determine whether the project is in the national interest.
"The EIS is in the final stages of preparation and we anticipate a release of the document soon. As a reminder when it is released, EIS is not a decision, but another step in the process," a senior State Department official said late Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The report's findings were not immediately available, but government officials told Fox News the review would probably disappoint Keystone opponents who say the pipeline would carry "dirty oil" that contributes to global warming. One official said the report would be released Friday.
President Obama refused to issue a permit for part of the project in 2012 amid concerns about its potential impact on a large aquifer in Nebraska. TransCanada, however, received clearance to build the southern leg of the pipeline, which runs between Oklahoma and the Gulf Coast and began shipping oil on Jan. 22.
Obama backed the southern leg of the project during a 2012 visit to a pipeyard near Cushing, Okla, describing the city as a "bottleneck" between producers and refineries along the Texas coast. Obama said then that increased oil and gas production was part of his domestic energy policy.
The State Department, which has jurisdiction over the pipeline because it crosses an international border, released a draft environmental report last March that raised no major objections to the pipeline and said other options to get the oil from Canada to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries are worse for climate change.
The State Department was required to conduct a new environmental analysis after the pipeline's operator, Calgary-based TransCanada, changed the project's route though Nebraska.
TransCanada has agreed to implement 57 voluntary safety measures for Keystone XL in a bid to convince U.S. officials that the pipeline is a good risk.
"We are hopeful the report on Keystone XL is released soon," Shawn Howard, a company spokesman said late Thursday. "Fifteen thousand pages of scientific and technical study published in four environmental analysis reports since 2010 have all concluded this project would have minimal impact on the environment. We don't see how the final report would come to a different conclusion."
Republicans who want Keystone XL to go forward have claimed Obama could with the stroke of a pen help achieve energy independence for North America and create thousands of jobs — a claim that has been disputed by the project's critics because the number of permanent jobs isn't known.
Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., said the absence of the Keystone project in Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday was "conspicuous," especially since the president did talk about expediting permits and streamlining bureaucracy dealing with energy projects.
"The clearest form of bureaucratic mess is that pipeline has been almost 2,000 days in the making, just for a permit that happens to be sitting on his desk," Lankford said in a statement to The Associated Press this week.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said Keystone wasn't mentioned during the speech because the president's "environmental base is keeping him anchored to the losing side of this argument."
"The southern leg of the pipeline has been constructed, starting in the heart of Cushing, Okla., and is already moving to the market vast amounts of resources that are being produced in our country's current energy boom," Inhofe said in a statement. "Like Americans across the country, I call on the president to stop blocking construction of the northern leg of the Keystone pipeline."
Fox News' Mike Emanuel, Kelly Chernenkoff and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
I am all for the idea of a jobs creating pipeline that would help reduce our dependence on foreign oil but also realize there could be environmental risks.
The question is: Do the environmental risks out weigh our need for the domestic oil pipeline and the jobs and oil independence we need?
By the way, today is my one year anniversary here at iReports!