U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) announced today they have written a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry calling for expeditious approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline. The bipartisan letter notes that after nearly five years, updated plans for the project have passed through the most rigorous environmental and safety tests in history. Yet, a presidential permit for the project remains outstanding. In light of the State Department's finding in its recently released draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) that the pipeline project will have minimal environmental impact along the proposed route, Senators Fischer and Heitkamp believe it is time for this project to finally move forward.
"Since my time in the Nebraska Legislature, I have worked in a bipartisan manner to ensure a fair process for consideration of this critical energy infrastructure project. Through this exhaustive review, the environmental integrity and economic benefits of the pipeline have been clearly demonstrated. We're done with studies, let's start building," said Fischer.
"The Keystone XL pipeline is a shovel-ready project that will create good paying American jobs, contribute to our goals of energy security and North American energy independence, and will give producers in North Dakota another on-ramp to deliver Bakken crude to Gulf Coast refineries. These are the kind of the projects that the Administration should be getting behind wholeheartedly in the face of lagging unemployment numbers and a stated energy policy of utilizing all available resources," said Heitkamp.
"We are building out our pipeline infrastructure every day in this country and this reason alone made the delays in approving this project hard to rationalize. The draft SEIS should put the decision beyond doubt, the SEIS found that the pipeline will have no significant impact along its proposed route. It is time to move on and approve the application for the Keystone XL pipeline without further delay," Heitkamp concluded.
March 14, 2013
The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Kerry:
We write to urge the expeditious approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project which has the clear capacity to grow our economy and energy security without having a significant impact on the environment. The two issues that had been holding up approval, a new route through Nebraska and an environmental impact study, have now been resolved in a manner that leaves little doubt that it is time to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
While the state of Nebraska did not have any specific permitting or siting requirements at the time of TransCanada's initial application for a Presidential permit, a state-level process was established. This process allowed for the examination of alternative pipeline siting that would avoid the Sandhills region of Nebraska, which has a high concentration of wetlands, areas of shallow groundwater, and a unique ecosystem. The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality provided an evaluation of the alternative route by soliciting public comments for more than seven months, holding five public information meetings and one public hearing, and analyzing the environmental, social, and other impacts associated with the proposed route and route alternatives in Nebraska. Ultimately, the state of Nebraska approved the route, finding that the construction and operation of the pipeline, with the mitigation and commitments from Keystone, would have minimal environmental impact.
The draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) affirmed what states along the pipeline route determined in their own environmental reviews--this project is environmentally sound and should move forward. The draft SEIS provided an exhaustive and comprehensive review of the proposed route and all the attendant primary and secondary impacts, and it also analyzed the impact on further development and production of the Alberta oil sands. The draft SEIS found that the pipeline would cause minimal environmental impacts along the route, and, more importantly, the Alberta oil sands will find their way to Gulf Coast refineries or the west coast of Canada by using alternate, fuel-intensive transportation such as rail and truck. Canada will continue to develop this resource; the only question left is whether the United States will seize the opportunity to partner with our friend and neighbor in realizing the project's potential.
Now that the Keystone XL Pipeline has undergone the most rigorous review process of any pipeline in U.S. history and demonstrated its environmental integrity, it is time to reap the benefits of this project. These benefits include the creation of more than 42,000 construction jobs, which would bring in wages of about $2.05 billion, as well as another $3.3 billion in other spending. In addition to bringing oil from our ally, Canada, the pipeline will also have the ability to transport crude from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota and Montana, where transportation infrastructure has not kept up with the increased production of our own domestic energy supply.
After nearly five years of exhaustive study and environmental review, the American people are anxiously awaiting this Administration's national interest determination. Indeed, it is in our nation's interest to move forward on this project that will create American jobs and facilitate the delivery of oil to U.S. refineries from good, reliable sources, instead of relying on oil from unpredictable sources and unstable regions throughout the world. We urge your quick approval and thank you for your consideration.
Deb Fischer Heidi Heitkamp