Monday, August 29, 2011

U.S. State Department sees no major harm from Keystone XL pipeline

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A proposed pipeline to bring oil from Canada's tar sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast would have "no significant impact" on the environment, the U.S. State Department said on Aug. 26.

In a long-awaited environmental impact statement on the massive Keystone XL project, which has prompted repeated protests, the State Department said the pipeline would be safer than most current oil transport systems.

"There would be no significant impact to most resources along the proposed pipeline corridor," Assistant Secretary of State Kerri-Ann Jones told reporters upon the release of the report.

The 1,000-page report says no significant problems have emerged since a similar report was issued last year.

Jones said the report, which is one step in the regulatory process, does not indicate approval or denial of the massive pipeline. U.S. officials are due to make a final decision later this year after further review and hearings.

"This is not a lean in any way toward one particular decision or another," said Jones, the assistant secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

The report said that with extra precautions planned, the pipeline "would have a degree of safety greater than any typically constructed domestic oil pipeline system under current regulations."

It also said that scrapping the pipeline would have its own environmental costs, because refineries in the United States would then need to transport oil by other means such as trucks, railroads, barges and marine tankers.

The report did cite some potential problems in the event of a spill in "environmentally sensitive areas," including wetlands, rivers and other water resources, as well as areas with a high concentration of plants and wildlife.

As to a possible alternate route for the pipeline, the report said it "did not find any of the major alternatives to be preferable."

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