EPA blasts insufficient State Department analysis of pipeline risks

EPA blasts insufficient State Department analysis of pipeline risks

For Immediate Release
June 7, 2011

Kelly Trout, 202-222-0722, [email protected]
Alex Moore, 202-222-0733, [email protected]

EPA blasts ‘insufficient’ State Department analysis of pipeline risks

Agency grades the impacts of Keystone XL environmentally objectionable

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Environmental Protection Agency stated formal objections to the controversial Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline, proposed to run from Canada across the nation’s breadbasket to refineries in Texas.

In response to the State Department’s environmental analysis, the EPA rated the proposal “Environmental Objections,” which is reserved for environmentally destructive projects. The objections from the EPA, including a rating that the analysis itself provides “insufficient information,” put a permit for the pipeline in question.

The State Department is charged with assessing the environmental risks of the project in an Environmental Impact Statement before deciding whether to issue a permit. The department will have to decide whether to undertake the analysis of environmental impacts requested by the EPA and acknowledge the environmental destruction that could be caused by the pipeline — due diligence that would push a final decision into next year — or push ahead and risk having its decision reversed by the White House.

“With this rating, the EPA is standing up for the people who would be hurt by the Keystone XL pipeline, including Midwest farmers and low-income people around Texas refineries,” said Alex Moore, dirty fuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “All eyes are on Secretary of State Clinton. Will she comply with the law and ensure that these impacts are studied or not?”

The State Department is under increasing pressure to undertake a thorough analysis of the Keystone XL pipeline, having had two draft analyses rejected by the EPA. Farmers and ranchers in the nation’s heartland have also pressed the agency to study the safety of tar sands oil pipelines in light of 12 spills this year in TransCanada’s other Keystone pipeline (including a 21,000 gallon spill last month). They have also called for the pipeline to be rerouted around the Ogallala Aquifer, the nation’s largest aquifer.

The EPA focused on the environmental justice impacts of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would increase pollution around low-income communities near Texas refineries. The State Department, despite issuing two draft analyses, has still not analyzed the differences in air pollution emitted by refineries processing tar sands oil. The EPA also objected to the State Department’s apparent lack of concern about the climate implications of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would emit as much climate pollution as adding 6 million cars to U.S. roads.[1]

The controversial Keystone XL project, proposed by Canadian oil giant TransCanada, would carry 900,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day from Canada, through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. It would cross the Yellowstone, Missouri, and Red Rivers, abundant farmland, and the Ogallala Aquifer.

The EPA’s objections to the State Department’s Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement are available at: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/nepa/keystone-xl-project-epa-comment-letter-20110125.pdf

[1] Based on 0.117 tons more CO2 per barrel of tar sands oil (Source: GREET).

Friends of the Earth fights to create a more healthy, just world. Our current campaigns focus on clean energy and solutions to climate change, keeping toxic and risky technologies out of the food we eat and products we use, and protecting marine ecosystems and the people who live and work near them.

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