EPA: State Department review of proposed pipeline is 'insufficient'

EPA argues that the State Department’s updated environmental review of the Keystone XL project is lacking because “it does not contain sufficient information to fully assess the environmental impacts of the proposed Project, including potential impacts to groundwater resources and communities that could be affected by potential increases in refinery emissions.”

The agency also called for an analysis of diluents used to reduce the viscosity of oil in the pipeline.

“We believe an analysis of potential diluents is important to establish the potential health and environmental impacts of any spilled oil, and responder/worker safety, and to develop response strategies,” EPA said.

The agency noted that benzene, a carcinogen, was released during a pipeline spill last year in Michigan.

The comments are EPA’s latest criticism of the State Department’s review of the Keystone XL project. The agency raised similar concerns last year when commenting on a previous environmental review conducted by the department.

The State Department released a supplemental environmental review that took into account some of the concerns of EPA and other federal agencies.

EPA notes that the State Department has “made progress” in its supplemental analysis, but argues that “additional analysis is necessary to fully respond to our earlier comments and to ensure a full evaluation of the potential impacts of proposed Project, and to identify potential means to mitigate those impacts.”

The State Department is in the process of completing a lengthy, multi-agency review of Keystone XL. It will now work to finalize its supplemental environmental review of the project, taking into account the latest comments from federal agencies and others.

The oil industry called on the administration to quickly approve the project Monday, arguing it will create jobs and is necessary to wean the country off of its dependence on Middle Eastern oil.

But environmental groups have blasted the project and argued that the State Department’s review is inadequate.

“America’s next oil disaster is underway with this rush to build the unsafe Keystone XL pipeline,” National Wildlife Federation Senior Vice President Jeremy Symons said Tuesday.

Symons pointed to two leaks that occurred last month at TransCanada’s existing Keystone pipeline to argue that the proposed extension of the project should be nixed.

The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) ordered the Keystone pipeline to remain shut down until TransCanada showed that it could be safely restarted. But a day later, PHMSA said it would allow the company to restart the pipeline because it had satisfied the safety requirements.