". . .the greenhouse gas question and the relationship to climate is a very important topic, and what we have done in the draft supplemental is we have looked at the greenhouse gas impact from a number of ways, both the overall lifecycle of greenhouse gas emission related to the oil that would be moving through this pipeline, as well as how the construction of the pipeline might influence the overall development of the oil sands."And I think that this has been an area of great interest, and as I said in my opening comments, this is a draft SEIS, and it's a preliminary document. We're very anxious to have a lot of public comment. But with this preliminary analysis, we find in this draft that the approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including this proposed project, really remains unlikely to significantly impact the rate of development of the oil sands, or the continued demand for heavy crude oil in the U.S. But let me reiterate that this is a draft document, and we're anxious to get a lot of comments from the public and to have a lot of discussion about this document. . ."
"You raise a good question. Certainly, that is one of the areas we look at in the draft and that's sort of in the discussion where we look at alternatives. We have a very robust discussion of alternatives, including the no-action alternative, where what we look at is what would happen if this pipeline were not to be built, what would happen with other forms of transport, not just pipelines, but rail and barge. And also we look at what would happen to -- with the existing pipeline structure. Would there be other changes or modifications for that? So there is a tremendous amount of analysis in this draft on that very issue, and I would refer you to that. . ."
Well, as I said in my opening remarks, again, this is a draft. And so while there is a section where there is a summary discussion, I don't think it's -- I think it's somewhat premature to get into that, because we feel that we need to have a public debate. We covered a range of issues regarding what could be environmental impacts, covering what's been already mentioned on this call -- greenhouse gases and climate considerations -- as well as groundwater, as well as the ability when you're passing through somewhat fragile areas, the effects on threatened and endangered species. So I would just refer you to the summary piece and just say I think it's premature at this point to really try to come down with strong conclusions, as we want to make sure we get a lot of comments on this and we have a full public debate about the document.
- it is unlikely that the proposed Project construction would have a substantial impact on the rate of WCSB oil sands development
Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer said, "Completing the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Keystone XL is an important step towards receiving a Presidential Permit for this critical energy infrastructure project. No one has a stronger interest than TransCanada does in making sure that Keystone XL operates safely, and more than four years of exhaustive study and environmental review show the care and attention we have placed on ensuring this is the safest oil pipeline built to date in the United States."
The House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) issued a statement saying, "The SEIS findings confirm what we already knew -- this pipeline is safe and in the best interest of the American people. There are no legitimate reasons not to move forward on the landmark jobs project. The president should stand up for families and immediately approve the Keystone XL pipeline. It has been over four years since TransCanada first applied for a permit to build this pipeline that will bring jobs and energy security to America. At a time when gas prices are rising toward $4.00 a gallon, we must use every available tool we can to increase America's access to affordable and secure energy supplies. It should be a no-brainer to approve Keystone and accept Canada's oil. The Obama administration's unnecessary delays have prevented the pipeline's construction from moving forward, and in turn, put the project at risk. As China covets Canada's abundant oil resources, we can't afford to wait any longer.
"The SEIS findings suggest the president should approve the pipeline's permit, but we were in a similar situation last year and the president chose to ignore the evidence and reject the middle class jobs project. Sadly, there is still no guarantee this pipeline will be approved absent an act of Congress. We fear the delays have allowed the opposition to grow so out-of-control that congressional action is still necessary to get the pipeline built."
E&C Committee Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) issued a brief statement saying, "The draft impact statement appears to be seriously flawed. We don't need this dirty oil. To stop climate change and the destructive storms, droughts, floods, and wildfires that we are already experiencing, we should be investing in clean energy, not building a pipeline that will speed the exploitation of Canada's highly polluting tar sands."
The American Petroleum Institute (API) issued a statement saying, "No matter how many times KXL is reviewed, the result is the same: no significant environmental impact. The latest impact statement from the State Department puts this important, job-creating project one step closer to reality. Nebraska has finished its final Keystone XL assessment and the governor has given it his full support. The last approval needed is by President Obama, and we urge him to do so as soon as possible. The president could truly implement his 'all of the above' energy strategy by approving Keystone XL. We hope the president will choose to side with the American people who strongly support the pipeline in poll after poll. The project will create thousands of good paying jobs for the safest, most highly trained workers of the building trades at a time when construction workers have an unemployment rate higher than the national average. Keystone XL will also enhance our energy security. It would be a win win for the U.S."
- Climate Impacts: The analysis minimizes the climate impacts of up to 830,000 barrels per day of tar sands -- which has been termed "the dirtiest oil on the planet" due to its high-carbon liabilities. Building this pipeline would be the same as putting 6 million new cars on the road. And that doesn't even account for emissions that come from petroleum coke, which would increase carbon pollution from Keystone XL by an additional 13 percent. But the draft SEIS discounted this carbon pollution.
- Tar Sands Development: The State Department analysis specifically avoids the impact that this project would have in empowering a tripling of tar sands oil production by noting that the oil would be delivered in other ways, despite very clear evidence and press reporting in Canada to the contrary.
- Water Impacts: In a significant change from the first environmental impact study, the State Department now acknowledges that the acidic and corrosive properties of diluted bitumen (a rawer form of tar sands oil that would flow through the pipeline) has elevated safety risks compared to conventional oil, and requires new response strategies to deal with spills in water. The ongoing cleanup of the nation's biggest inland oil spill two and a half years ago -- in Michigan's Kalamazoo River -- illustrates the danger underplayed in the draft report.