State Department review of Keystone XL pipeline finds no major environmental impact

BY Zachary Treu  January 31, 2014 at 11:14 AM EST

Updated 3:30 p.m. EST: Released Friday, the State Department’s review of the Keystone XL oil pipeline concluded that the project has no major environmental impact, the Associated Press reports.

The department concluded that the pipeline was “unlikely to significantly affect the rate” of oil sands extraction, a sticking point that raised concerns about the proposed 1,179-mile long pipeline extension and its potential effects on climate change.

A senior U.S. State Department official said earlier Friday that an environmental impact statement on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project would be released , according to a Reuters report.

The project would add another line to the already extant Keystone Pipeline System, which transports oil from Alberta, Canada, through the American Midwest to refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma. A new proposal, which would extend the system into Texas, has raised considerable environmental debate since it was introduced in 2008.

A source told Politico that the new statement will likely follow past State Department studies in declaring the project to have “few significant environmental risks.” However, the document will not have the last word on whether or not the project is approved.

Last June, President Obama said that the pipeline extension would only be approved if there was proof that it would not be excessively harmful to the environment.

“‘Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interests,’ Obama said in a speech on climate change at Georgetown University. ‘Our national interest would be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.’”

Earlier this week, PBS NewsHour’s Rebecca Jacobson wrote about Mr. Obama’s environmental promises in his State of the Union address.