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Keystone ‘unlikely’ to boost development of oil sands

Keywords: Tags  Keystone XL, Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, DSEIS, TransCanada, Russ Girling, Thorsten Schier

NEW YORK — The building of the Keystone XL pipeline is "unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development of oil sands (in Canada), or on the amount of heavy crude oil refined in the Gulf Coast area," the U.S. State Department concluded in its draft supplemental environmental impact statement (DSEIS) on TransCanada Corp.’s proposed project.

But opponents of the project dispute that finding. "If this were true, why would the Canadian government and the oil industry be hell-bent on building it? They know its key to their expansion, and so do we," said Steve Kretzmann, executive director of Washington-based advocacy group Oil Change International.

The pipeline, which is intended to deliver oil from the tar sands in Alberta to Cushing, Okla., was rerouted to avoid environmentally sensitive areas in Nebraska after it was denied a presidential permit early last year (, Jan. 18, 2012). The revised route is 509 miles shorter than the original pipeline, according to the DSEIS.

A 45-day comment period will follow the publication of the statement in the Federal Register, after which the department will prepare a final report.

"No one has a stronger interest than TransCanada does in making sure that Keystone XL operates safely, and more than four years of exhaustive study and environmental review show the care and attention we have placed on ensuring this is the safest oil pipeline built to date in the United States," Russ Girling, president and chief executive officer of the Calgary, Alberta-based company, said in a statement.

The one- to two-year construction period of the pipeline could generate as many as 42,100 jobs and lead to $2.05 billion in earnings domestically, according to the DSEIS summary.

The pipeline is scheduled to start up in 2015, with the actual date dependent on the necessary permits, approvals and authorizations.

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