Interior Dept. says Keystone XL could harm parks, wildlife

The April 29 comment was one of the 1.2 million Foggy Bottom is reviewing regarding its Keystone draft environmental impact statement. The department is reviewing the pipeline because TransCanada needs a cross-border permit to finish the northern leg.

Interior’s comment focused on the impact Keystone would have on national parks and public lands the department oversees.

The department recommended a mitigation and enforcement program to “provide accountability and environmental oversight of mitigation implementation,” which TransCanada would fund but would operate independently from the firm.

The comments come after the Environmental Protection Agency said in April that it found State’s environmental review “insufficient.”

Green groups have pointed to the EPA’s comments as supportive of their claims that State’s draft review is flawed.

State’s draft review said Keystone wouldn’t accelerate oil sands production and therefore wouldn’t boost greenhouse gas emissions. It said market demand was strong enough to bring oil sands out of the ground regardless of Keystone, largely by rail or other pipelines.

Keystone supporters in the oil industry, business community and labor say that gives President Obama all he needs to green light the project. The president said in June speech that he'd oppose the pipeline if it "significantly exacerbates" carbon pollution, which the State draft review says it won't do.

But opponents have alleged bias by the contractor that performed the analysis, saying it had ties to TransCanada.

State’s Office of Inspector General has opened an inquiry to evaluate a potential conflict of interest.