History and Status of the Proposed Keystone XL Pipeline

Keystone XL History and Status

The Keystone XL Pipeline Issue Is Far From Over!

Although Keystone’s request for a Presidential Permit has now been denied because of the 60-day time restriction imposed by Congress, Keystone is allowed to resubmit its permit application.  The permit denial was based on the fact that DOS was not allowed adequate time to review alternative routes – it was not based on the merits of the issue.  Keystone can resubmit its request for a permit, and the company has stated that it plans to do so.  If Keystone applies again for a Presidential Permit, the process will start over and DOS will again be required to prepare an EIS and make a national interest determination.  

In addition, there has been significant speculation in the media about a possible legislative effort to defy the President’s decision and allow the pipeline to be built anyway, without the additional studies deemed necessary by the Department of State.  

While the President’s decision on January 18 was certainly good news, the victory was from an early battle in what is sure to be a long and grueling war.  We must remain vigilant and make good use of the time bought by recent developments.  Don’t think for one second that this issue is dead; the toxic 1700 mile snake and its forked-tongue proponents will be rearing their ugly heads again all-too-soon.  But this time, we will be prepared.



Gulf Coast Segment of KXL to Move Forward

On February 26, 2012, TransCanada announced its intention to proceed with construction of the “Gulf Coast” segment of the KXL pipeline, outside of the Presidential Permit process.  TransCanada stated that it anticipates the “Gulf Coast Project” to be completed and pumping crude oil from Cushing, OK to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas in mid to late 2013.  

The White House promptly expressed its support for the decision and its bias in favor of the pipeline.  Press Secretary Jay Carney, speaking on President Obama’s behalf, stated:

“We look forward to working with TransCanada to ensure that it is built in a safe, responsible and timely manner, and we commit to take every step possible to expedite the necessary permits.”

The President’s proclaimed allegiance to this foreign oil company and express intention to “expedite” a process intended in part to protect the religious, cultural, and property rights of indigenous people and Nations are completely irreconcilable with the federal government’s trust responsibility towards Native Nations. Furthermore, it is diametrically opposed to the President’s own commitment to respect tribal sovereignty and the government-to-government relationship between the U.S. and Native Nations.

In a 2009 memorandum to federal agency heads, Obama stated:

“History has shown that failure to include the voices of tribal officials in formulating policy affecting their communities has all too often lead to undesirable and, at times, devastating and tragic results.”

By trivializing the legal protections that are in place and advocating for a rushed review process, President Obama appears to be eagerly paving a path to proving the truth behind his own hollow words.


New Permit Application Expected Any Day
Additionally, TransCanada issued a letter to the State Department on February 26, 2012 declaring its plans to file a new Presidential Permit application in the “near future.”  This new application would seek approval to build the “Steele City” segment of the KXL pipeline to carry tar sands oil from Canada, through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, connecting with an existing pipeline in Steele City, NE.  The tar sands oil route would continue through Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, ultimately reaching refineries on the Gulf coast.


H.R.4348 Approved by House, Submitted to Senate

On April 18, 2012, the House of Representatives took its most recent in a series of actions aimed to legislatively approve the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.  The House passed bill H.R.4348 which, if enacted, would remove lawful authority to permit or reject the Keystone XL pipeline from the President.  It would instead place such authority in a single agency (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, “FERC”) - and it would require that agency to approve the pipeline within a 30-day time period.  The bill is currently pending before the Senate, which is expected to take up the bill for consideration when its session resumes.


New Permit Application from TransCanada Received by the State Department
On May 4, 2012, the U.S. Department of State issued a press release announcing that it has received a new application from TransCanada for a Presidential Permit for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.



Submit your comments by March 7, 2014!!

FSEIS Released, 30 Day Public Comment Period Now Running.
On January 31, 2014, the Department of State released a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the 2012 Presidential Permit application for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The Final SEIS is available here.  On February 5, 2014, the Federal Register published a Notice that invited members of the public to comment on any factor they deem relevant to the national interest determination that will be made for the Presidential Permit application.

This began a 30-day public comment period that will close on March 7, 2014. There are two ways to submit comments on the national interest determination. Members of the public are encouraged to submit comments to regulations.gov . Comments may also be mailed directly to:

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Energy Resources, Room 4843
Attn: Keystone XL Public Comments
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Comments can only be submitted via regulations.gov and by mail to the address indicated above.