The U.S. State Department released its draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska. The draft is now available for public comment. Comments should be sent to the State Department Keystone XL mailbox before April 15.
The draft SEIS does not make any recommendations on whether the pipeline should be approved or denied by President Obama. The report does conclude that the pipeline will have minimal environmental impacts. This conclusion is based on the expectation that the pipeline will not significantly impact oil sand production volumes or the amount of heavy oil refined along the Gulf Coast.
The draft SEIS marks an important and positive milestone, but before the President can make a decision on the pipeline there are many additional steps that will consume many months.
After the comment period, appropriate revision of the draft, and subsequent publication of the final SEIS, the State Department will lead an inter-agency inquiry into whether the proposed project serves the national interest. The national interest determination by the Department involves consideration of many factors, including energy security; environmental, cultural, and economic impacts; foreign policy; and compliance with relevant federal regulations and issues. During this time the Department will consult with, at least, the Departments of Defense, Justice, Interior, Commerce, Transportation, Energy, Homeland Security and the Environmental Protection Agency.