Keystone Report Disappointing Foes

Photograph by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

The Gulf Coast Project, a 485-mile crude oil pipeline being constructed by TransCanada Corp., is part of the Keystone XL Pipeline Project and will run from Cushing, Oklahoma to Nederland, Texas.

Written with Mark Drajem and Jonathan Allen

The State Department is preparing a report that will probably disappoint environmentalists and opponents of the Keystone pipeline, according to people who have been briefed on the draft of the document.

While the report will deviate from a March draft in some ways to the liking of environmentalists, the changes won’t be as sweeping as they had sought, several people familiar with the government’s deliberations over the review told Bloomberg News.

Changes could still be made to the report before its release, which could come as early as tomorrow.

The March report concluded that the Canada-U.S. oil pipeline would have only a minimal impact on carbon emissions, because the oil sands in Alberta will be developed anyway. Several people briefed on the findings, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations, said they expect the final report will track that conclusion.

The release of the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement will kick off a separate review in which President Barack Obama must determine whether building the Keystone pipeline is in the U.S. national interest.

“No matter what the SEIS says, it would be premature for either side to tear down the goalposts because there is still a long part of the game left to be played,” said Daniel J. Weiss, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a Washington-based research group opposed to the pipeline.

The updated report is likely to contain some changes, the people said. At the request of the Environmental Protection Agency, the State Department asked the pipeline’s builder, TransCanada Corp. (TRP), to agree to additional measures to prevent leaks, which it did.

The agency is revising its analysis of how much greenhouse-gas emissions come from a barrel of tar sands compared to a barrel of heavy crude from Venezuela or Mexico. And the analysts are including new information about the constraints on railroads to move the same amount of oil if the pipeline weren’t built, another person said.

The State Department assessment is important because Obama said in a June speech on climate change that he wouldn’t approve Keystone if it would “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”

See the full Keystone report from Bloomberg News.


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