Opponents pounce on draft Keystone review

March 1, 2013 at 5:30 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, March 1 (UPI) -- Environmental groups were quick to knock the U.S. State Department's report Friday on the planned Keystone XL pipeline from Canada.

The draft, running approximately 2,000 pages long, says that oil sands development in Alberta province would continue regardless of whether the White House gives a permit for the project's construction.

Oil sands, the type of oil designated for Keystone XL, are controversial because of the emissions tied to its production and its tendency to linger in the environment.

Jane Kleeb, director of opponent Bold Nebraska, said the assumption made by the State Department on oil sands production "is wrong and laughable."

Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, director of international programs for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said her group would take a "hard look" at the review. Past analysis, she said, suggest the pipeline isn't in the national interest, however.

Supporters like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, said the EIS built a "strong case" for Keystone XL.

"Once again, the State Department has confirmed that this project is environmentally sound," chamber President Karen Harbert said in a statement.

Apart from the environmental aspects, however, the State Department said several changes in the crude oil market have occurred in recent years that bear consideration. Among them are the dramatic increase in U.S. crude oil production and the increase in rail transportation for crude oil in the United States.

The Association of American Railroads reported that crude oil deliveries by rail set a record last year, with a 256 percent increase in carloads from the previous year.

Keystone XL is designed to deliver crude oil to southern U.S. refiners and needs federal approval as a cross-border pipeline. The State Department's analysis is subject to public comments for 45 days after it's published next week in the Federal Register.

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