WASHINGTON — The Canadian company seeking to build the Keystone XL pipeline submitted a new permit application on Friday for the segment proposed to carry crude from Alberta, Canada to Nebraska. The move sets off a new round of reviews by the U.S. State Department and triggered more criticism from environmental groups and landowners along the proposed route.
TransCanada, which had its application rejected by the Obama administration in January because no route through Nebraska had been finalized, suggested Friday that the State Department could now rely on thousands of pages of material gathered during three years of reviews for its previous application.
Russ Girling, Trans
“It was the most comprehensive process ever for a cross-border pipeline and that work should allow our cross border permit to be processed expeditiously and a decision made once a new route in Nebraska is determined.”
But environmental groups said Friday that the process should begin from scratch because the consulting company that led the previous environmental reviews was tainted by its ties to TransCanada.
Moreover, the groups and some Nebraskans said the proposed routes through Nebraska still threaten the ecologically sensitive Sandhills region and the Ogallala Aquifer; concern about the pipeline's passage through those areas stalled the original application last year.
The State Department, which must approve the Canada-Nebraska segment since it crosses an international border, has said a new review could last until early next year. Nebraska's state review is expected to take six to nine months.
The department said in a statement Friday that the new review would use “existing analysis, as appropriate” and examine energy security, health, environmental, cultural, economic and foreign policy concerns.
“We will begin by hiring an independent third-party contractor to assist the department, including reviewing the existing Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) from the prior Keystone XL pipeline review process, as well as identifying and assisting with new analysis.”
The proposed pipeline would carry tar sands crude from Alberta and also pick up crude being produced in the Bakken Shale in North Dakota by companies such as Oklahoma City's Continental Resources.
According to Trans
President Barack Obama late last year delayed a decision on the pipeline because of the controversy over Nebraska. The delay angered congressional Republicans, who used a payroll tax bill to force the administration to make a decision; Obama announced in January that the permit couldn't be approved because there was no settled route.
The southern portion from Oklahoma
TransCanada has announced that it would proceed this summer in building the southern part of the pipeline, which will carry crude from the oil storage supply hub in Cushing to the Texas Gulf Coast.
Obama visited Cushing in March to say his administration would expedite the approval of permits for the southern portion.
Erich Pica, president of the group Friends of the Earth, said Friday that an Environmental Protection Agency official had determined late last year that the southern portion of the pipeline didn't qualify for the type of approval Trans
“In March, President Barack Obama unconscionably stood in front of piles of TransCanada pipe and gave his blessing to expedite the southern segment,” Pica said.
“Pandering to the oil industry and political headwinds with a pro-pipeline photo op is one thing, but encouraging his federal agencies to ram through a project that would ignite catastrophic climate change and leaves Americans on the hook to clean up Big Oil's mess is another matter.”
But Girling, TransCanada's president and CEO, said the environmental review completed last summer concluded that the Keystone XL would be the safest pipeline of its kind in the United States.
“The multibillion dollar Keystone XL pipeline project will reduce the United States' dependence on foreign oil and support job growth,” Girling said.
The multibillion dollar Keystone XL pipeline project will reduce the United States' dependence on foreign oil and support job growth by putting thousands of Americans to work.”