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Published June 15 2012

Another review of Keystone XL Pipeline set

BISMARCK – The U.S. State Department will conduct another environmental review of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline and reaffirmed Friday its latest goal to make a decision on the project’s permit next year.

The State Department announced Friday that it is going to again open up review of the northern route of the project from the Canadian border through Nebraska. TransCanada, the company behind the project, submitted a revised route in May to avoid Nebraska’s environmentally sensitive Sand Hills region. Earlier this year, the Obama administration rejected a permit for the original route.

While the pipeline would not run through North Dakota, it is viewed as an important link to transport oil from the Bakken region of Canada, Montana and North Dakota to the Gulf Coast.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said an environmental review of the entire route is “unwarranted and unjustified in light of an already exhaustive four-year review.”

The scope of any new supplemental environmental statement should be confined to the 88-mile rerouting through Nebraska and should not include the nearly 1,000 miles already reviewed and approved, Hoeven said.

“The Keystone XL pipeline, including its environmental impact, economic benefits and role in moving us toward a more secure energy future, has been exhaustively studied and debated for four years now,” Hoeven said in a statement. “Today’s notice from the Department of State seems to be yet another obstructive tactic designed to appease a narrow constituency. With rising unemployment, a stagnant economy and continued instability in the Middle East, the need for Congress to approve the project has never been greater.”

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., is an “ardent supporter” of the pipeline project and is pleased with Friday’s announcement that the review process is moving forward, spokesman Chris Gaddie said.

“While he wants to see the process completed as expeditiously as possible and is encouraged that TransCanada is proceeding with construction of the pipeline from Cushing (Okla.) to the Gulf – the key is to get it done right the first time to avoid any further delays,” Gaddie said. “It is Sen. Conrad’s hope that the data already available can be used to move the process along more swiftly.”

The State Department will also consult with historic preservation officials and Indian tribes about potential pipeline impacts.

TransCanada filed for a State Department permit for the project in September 2008. The State Department reaffirming its timeline for making a decision on a permit early next year is an important development, said Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer.

“It is important to recognize that by the time a final decision on this critical piece of North American energy infrastructure is made, Keystone XL will be well into its fifth year of exhaustive and detailed studies, the most extensive review for a cross-border pipeline ever,” he said in a statement on the company’s website.

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