History and Status of the Proposed Keystone XL Pipeline
Keystone XL History and Status
September 19, 2008: TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP (“Keystone,” a subsidiary
of TransCanada) filed an application for a Presidential Permit with DOS to build
and operate the Keystone XL pipeline
August 26, 2011: DOS issued the Final EIS (“FEIS”), which was largely based on
research and investigation by Cardno ENTRIX, a private environmental consulting firm
hired by DOS to assist in preparing the EIS
DOS consulted with 8 other federal agencies and solicited public comments to gather
information for the DOS national interest determination, which is the basis for granting
or denying the Presidential Permit
November 20, 2011: DOS announced that before it can make a national interest determination,
it must examine alternative routes for the pipeline that would avoid the Sandhills
December 23, 2011: A payroll tax bill that required a final decision on the Presidential
Permit within 60 days (by February 21, 2012) was signed into law
January 18, 2011: DOS denied the Presidential Permit on the grounds that the 60-day
deadline prevented DOS from fully and adequately examining alternate routes for the
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
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,
“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.
“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.