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Mont. land board approves Keystone pipeline lease

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 17, 2012 at 4:44 pm •  Published: December 17, 2012

TransCanada told the board that it has agreed during regulatory permit proceedings to bury the pipeline 40 feet under the major rivers, a depth much greater than the older pipeline that ruptured last year.

Schweitzer told the critics that they need to take their concerns to state or federal agencies that offer the environmental permits.

The governor, shepherding his final land board meeting, said the same groups made similar requests of the board when it was making decisions on coal development in eastern Montana. He argued, again, that the land board makes the decisions regarding the state's financial interest in such cases, while regulatory agencies make sure environmental laws are followed.

"I don't know why MEIC and Northern Plains went well back to this well again," Schweitzer said. "We handle the money. The environmental permits are handled elsewhere. That's why we have a Department of Environmental Quality that does these things."

The 36-inch oil pipeline still faces several much larger hurdles than the Montana Land Board, including court battles elsewhere and the pending request for the presidential approval needed for such a cross-border project. The pipeline, which will have an on-ramp for Montana oil developers, would eventually carry crude oil to refineries in southern Texas.

The board also gave the backers of the Montana-Alberta Tie Line some final easements needed across state land in north-central Montana to complete its project. The company told the board that it could be done in the first half of next year.

Schweitzer lauded the project as a key component to the state's development of wind energy.