Groups say federal review of Keystone line is inadequateBISMARCK — The TransCanada Keystone Pipeline shouldn’t have a final go-ahead yet because a federal environmental study failed to heed the increased global warming caused by the “dirty” tar sands oil the line would carry, environmental groups said Wednesday.
By: Janell Cole, N.D. Capitol Bureau
BISMARCK — The TransCanada Keystone Pipeline shouldn’t have a final go-ahead yet because a federal environmental study failed to heed the increased global warming caused by the “dirty” tar sands oil the line would carry, environmental groups said Wednesday.
The groups, including the Dickinson–based Dakota Resource Council, also charge that the proposed pipe strength isn’t good enough to ensure groundwater safety and that the federal study neglected to consider protection of American Indian cultural resources.
The 30-inch pipeline, set for construction beginning this spring, is to run from Alberta through Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and Illinois. It will carry oil extracted from the northern Alberta tar sands to Illinois refineries, with a future branch extending to a crude oil hub in Oklahoma.
DRC joined with the Natural Resources Defense Council, headquartered in New York, and the Iowa-based Plains Justice to comment on the final federal environmental impact statement.
The groups said they “found that the final (EIS) failed to address the impacts of expansion in refineries for the dirty tar sands oil, and the local impacts of the pipeline.” And, they said, the study fails to show how “promoting and catalyzing expansion of tar sands oil” is in the national interest. Processing tar sands oil causes three times as much global warming per barrel compared to conventional oil, they said.
The State Department is eventually expected to issue a “record of decision” giving the federal approval for the construction. Meanwhile, the North Dakota Public Service Commission is also in the final stages of approving the route through the state, from near Walhalla to near Cogswell. The PSC meets again this morning to work on its draft order.
TransCanada spokesman Jeff Rauh said Wednesday, “The EIS is adequate.” He said it covers all the pertinent issues and “we look forward to starting on the project.”
Pipeline critic Janie Clapp of Lankin said Wednesday, as she and other opponents have said before, that the federal government’s approval of a slightly thinner pipe in sections of the line “may contaminate our drinking and agricultural water.”
But Rauh said the federal pipeline safety agency that has permitted the slightly thinner pipe determined it will be as safe as or safer than other pipelines. Its approval includes 17 pages – more than 50 special conditions – that the company must meet in order to use the slightly thinner pipe, he said.
Rauh also said the EIS contains 35 pages of detail about the consultation done with Indian tribes and the State Department regarding the line’s possible affect on native resources.
Janell Cole works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Dickinson Press.