Hoeven: State Department's Expanded Keystone Environmental Review Unjustified After Four Years of Exhaustive Study

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today said the U.S. State Department’s decision to generate yet another Environmental Impact Statement for a long segment of the Keystone XL pipeline route is unwarranted and unjustified in light of an already exhaustive four-year review.

The State Department today announced it is going to open up, yet again, review of the full northern route of the project from the Canadian border through Nebraska. Further, the agency plans to ask environmentalist and others to assist in identifying significant environmental issues in determining the appropriate scope of a new Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.

The agency now says it won’t finish the review for another nine months, pushing the entire review process into a fifth year. Hoeven said the scope of any new supplemental environmental statement should be confined to the 88 mile rerouting through Nebraska, and should not include the nearly 1,000 miles already reviewed and approved.

TransCanada filed for a State Department permit in September 2008, and the Environmental Protection Act process was begun in January 2009. The state Department issued a Supplemental Draft EIS in April of 2011, and a final EIS at the end of August 2011, three years after the company first applied for a permit. The project has been in limbo since November, when President Obama derailed the regular review process.

Hoeven said the State Department continues to move the goalpost on the project. He said he supports the review of the new route through Nebraska, the only part of the route in contention, but there’s no justification for reviewing a segment of project that remains unchanged since the agency’s final review last year.

“The Keystone XL pipeline, including its environmental impact, economic benefits and role in moving us toward a more secure energy future, has been exhaustively studied and debated for four years now,” Hoeven said. “Today’s notice from the Department of State seems to be yet another obstructive tactic designed to appease a narrow constituency. With rising unemployment, a stagnant economy and continued instability in the Middle East, the need for Congress to approve the project has never been greater.”

Hoeven introduced a measure that would authorize Congress to approve the process under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The measure came within four votes of passing in the Senate. The House approved the project and it is now under consideration in the conference committee for the transportation bill.

“The environment does not change in the nine months since the issuance, nearly a year ago in August, of the final Environmental Impact Statement. That document concluded that there are ‘no significant impacts.’”