State Department to issue final environmental review of Keystone XL in August

Clune said the State Department is still on track to make a final decision on TransCanada’s permit application by the end of the year.

The State Department has scheduled a series of additional public meetings in September along the proposed pipeline route n Montana, South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas.

The 1,700-mile proposed Keystone XL project has ignited a firestorm in Washington, with environmental and public lands blasting the proposal and Republicans and some Democrats arguing that it is essential for U.S. energy security.

The news comes as House Republicans are expected to bring legislation to the floor next week that would force President Obama to make a decision on the Keystone XL project by Nov. 1.

Clune said the legislation is “unnecessary.”

“From our perspective at the State Department, we think it [the GOP bill] is unnecessary because we have already committed to completing the process by the end of the year, which is 60 days after Nov. 1,” Clune said.

The tail end of the State Department review comes after a number of recent pipeline incidents. TransCanada’s existing Keystone pipeline has suffered a number of recent leaks and an Exxon Mobil oil pipeline spewed an estimated 42,000 gallons of oil into Montana’s Yellowstone River earlier this month.

Clune said pipeline safety will continue to be a major consideration in the State Department’s final EIS.

“Pipeline safety is something that has concerned us from the very start of the process, and I think rightly so,” he said. “This is an important issue and something we’ve spent a lot of time examining.”

Clune added that he did not know whether the final EIS will include a specific discussion of recent pipeline incidents like the oil spill along Montana’s Yellowstone River.

“I can guarantee you that it will include a very extensive discussion of pipeline safety,” he said.

TransCanada filed its permit application with the State Department at the end of 2008. The department issued a draft environmental impact statement in April of 2010 and a supplemental environmental impact statement in April of 2011.