Keystone XL Passes State Department Environmental Review

The proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada has cleared a significant hurdle. The State Department released a report saying it has no major environmental objections to the project.

The State Department says Canada is likely to develop its oil sands regardless of U.S. action on the pipeline. In its final environmental review of the Keystone XL project, the department ruled that any other options to get the oil from Western Canada to Texas Gulf Coast refineries are worse for the environment.

Developer TransCanada views the report as a vindication of its position that the project would create jobs without raising greenhouse gas production or water pollution risks. Alex Pourbaix is the company’s president of energy and oil pipelines.

“I think throughout this entire process, we’ve always tried to respond in a factual manner, and we’ve always said we want the facts and the science to prevail in this.”

Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, says he’s disappointed with the State Department’s findings.

“They’re under an Inspector General investigation already for the role that contractors played in the development of the study who previously worked for TransCanada, and so there’s already a real taint of industry influence in the study.”

The environmental review stops short of recommending approval of the project. But the report gives the Obama Administration political cover if it chooses to endorse the pipeline in spite of opposition from many Democrats and environmental groups. State Department approval of the project is needed because the pipeline crosses a U.S. border. A final decision from the White House is not expected before the summer. 


Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas delegations in the U.S. House and Senate, as well as the Texas governorship, the state legislature, and county and city governments. Before taking up his current post, Andrew...

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