Kerry Delays Keystone Pipeline To Seek Agency Opinions

Keystone Pipeline Project Path

The Keystone XL Pipeline came across yet another hurdle on Friday, when Secretary of State John Kerry postponed the long-delayed project until he could solicit opinions from eight federal agencies. Not only that, but litigation currently making its way through the Nebraska Supreme Court could provide other important considerations.

“The Nebraska Supreme Court decision could lead to changes in the pipeline route, and it’s important to have that information and better understand that route, because it could have implications for environmental, socioeconomic and cultural impacts of the pipeline,” said a State Department spokesperson on Friday, according to the New York Times.

The Keystone pipeline already runs south through the Keystone Canyon of Alaska (shown above), then south of Edmonton, Canada, just east to Winnipeg, before traveling south to Kansas. There, it splits to travel east to Patoka, Illinois, and further south to Cushing, Oklahoma. The new Keystone XL Pipeline, instead of jutting to the east just south of Hardisty in Canada, would continue south through the Great Plains to reach the Steele City junction. It also would extend the existing pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma, all the way to the Gulf of Mexico in Port Arthur, Texas. Russ Girling, president and CEO of TransCanada, the Keystone Pipeline’s builder, issued a statement voicing his opposition to another delay in the project:

“We are extremely disappointed and frustrated with yet another delay. American men and women will miss out on another construction season where they could have worked to build Keystone XL and provided for their families. We feel for them. “We are also disappointed the United States will continue to rely on regimes that are fundamentally opposed to American values for the eight to nine million barrels of oil that is imported every day. A stable, secure supply of oil from Canada and from the U.S. makes better sense and I am sure a majority of Americans agree. “Another delay is inexplicable. The first leg of our Keystone pipeline began shipping oil to refineries outside of St. Louis in 2010. It is about the same length of pipe as Keystone XL, carries the same oil and also crosses the 49th parallel. It took just 21 months to study and approve. After more than 2,000 days, five exhaustive environmental reviews and over 17,000 pages of scientific data Keystone XL continues to languish.”

Nine days ago, President Barack Obama received a letter from a litany of US senators asking him to finalize the Keystone XL Pipeline’s approval, saying it would “enhance our relationship with Canada and increase our drive towards North American energy security and independence, and there is no consultation required to arrive at that conclusion.”

But Obama has said that he would give Keystone XL his final approval only if it “does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.” This is what opponents of the new pipeline are waiting to hear. Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, of the National Resources Defense Council, said, “Getting this decision right includes being able to evaluate the yet-to-be determined route through Nebraska and continuing to listen to the many voices that have raised concerns about Keystone XL.”

[Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]