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Keystone Pipeline Takes Another Step

by Jeff Johnson
March 11, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 10

Credit: Rena Schild/
Stopping the pipeline was the focus of a rally in Washington, D.C., in February.
Photo of marchers taking part in the Forward on Climate rally on February 17, 2013, in Washington, D.C., the largest climate rally in U.S. history.
Credit: Rena Schild/
Stopping the pipeline was the focus of a rally in Washington, D.C., in February.

A new draft environmental impact statement (EIS) by the State Department makes no recommendations but finds no reason not to move ahead with the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline. The proposed pipeline project would bring 830,000 barrels per day of oil from tar sand deposits in Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Texas and Illinois. The project, proposed by TransCanada Corp., needs a U.S. permit because it crosses the border between the two countries. The project has strong support from the oil industry, but it is opposed by environmental activists, primarily because of greenhouse gas emissions from development and refining of carbon-intensive tar sands oil. The draft EIS finds 17% more greenhouse gases are emitted on a life-cycle basis from tar sands oil than from conventional oil, but the State Department believes the resources would more or less be developed with or without the pipeline. After a 45-day public comment period, the department will prepare a final EIS and obtain the views of other agencies. A final decision is expected this summer.


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