The Department of State’s review of the new route for the hotly contested Keystone XL pipeline shows the oil projection would not cause significant impacts to the environment, according to a report on the department’s website.
“Implementing the [new route] would have no significant direct, indirect or cumulative effects on the quality of the natural or human environments,” the draft notes, referring to a route snaking around Nebraska. State regulators approved a 162-mile route that was different than the original path.
A State Department official told Politico the draft was made available before its targeted Sept. 24 release. A Federal Register notice on that date will start 45 days of public comment, the report says. The agency began working on an assessment before a federal judge in August ruled the federal government had to craft a new report.
The Nebraska Public Service Commission voted in November 2017 to allow TransCanada to build the multi-billion dollar pipeline only on an alternative route. The Trump administration prepared a new environmental assessment for the new Nebraska route.
Keystone and the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota became a rallying cry for activists during the latter half of the Obama administration. Former President Barack Obama blocked permits for the route in 2015 under the aegis that the project would hurt the fight against climate change. President Donald Trump later signed an executive order approving both projects subject to regulatory review.
Nebraska laws prohibits regulators from considering pipeline leaks or breaks when determining the fate of future projects. Environmentalists believe the Keystone XL pipeline is at risk of leaking and potentially contaminating drinking water.
TransCanada, the company behind the project, temporarily shuttered the pipeline in mid-2017 after detecting a leak 35 miles south of one of the primary line’s pumping station. Company officials estimated Keystone leaked 5,000 barrels of oil before workers took the project offline.