Trump administration predicts ‘moderate’ impacts from new Keystone XL route

Trump administration predicts ‘moderate’ impacts from new Keystone XL route
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The Trump administration on Monday released a new environmental review for a portion of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, predicting some “moderate” impacts from its construction and operation.

In its 300 page draft report, the State Department found that some of the biggest impacts from the project’s new route in Nebraska include injuries to wetlands and vegetation, but says much of the impact would be temporary.

Monday’s release is just the latest development in a years-long, contentious fight over the Keystone pipeline.

Keystone XL once was at the center of environment and energy policy in the United States, and President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada MORE acted swiftly after his 2017 inauguration to approve it, fulfilling a campaign promise.

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The report was required because of the Nebraska Public Service Commission’s vote in November 2017 to allow TransCanada Corp. to build the controversial pipeline only on an alternative route, not the one that it had preferred and that the Trump administration had initially approved earlier that year.

The State Department decided in response that it would prepare a new Environmental Assessment for the Nebraska route.

That angered environmentalists, who wanted State to instead prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, a far more thorough and time-consuming review process, and to withhold the company’s permit in the meantime.

The Sierra Club accused the administration of cutting the process short.

“Once again, the Trump administration is attempting to take a shortcut around the legally required review process on Keystone XL, putting our communities at risk for the sake of propping up the Canadian tar sands industry,” Kelly Martin, director of the group’s Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign, said in a statement.

“Keystone XL was a bad idea when it was proposed a decade ago, it was a bad idea when former President Obama rejected it, and it’s an even worse idea now. This pipeline is a threat to our land, water, wildlife, communities, and climate, and we will continue fighting, in the courts and in the streets, to ensure that it is never built,” Martin wrote.

The State Department will soon open a 30 day public comment period on the draft assessment before making it final.