On March 1, 2013, the U.S. State Department released its draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”) for the Keystone XL pipeline project. The EIS is a draft technical review of the potential environmental impacts from the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Among the reports major findings, the EIS reaffirmed that there would be no significant impacts to resources along the proposed project route. The EIS also noted that Keystone XL would result in no substantive change in global greenhouse gas emissions and that it is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development of the oil sands, or on the amount of heavy crude oil refined in the gulf coast area. Finally, the EIS noted that the denial of a presidential permit would likely result in actions by other firms in the U.S. and global petroleum markets, such as use of alternative modes of transport for Western Canadian and Bakken crude oil.
The EIS will now undergo a public comment period which will last for 45 days. Following the end of the public comment period, the U.S. State Department will prepare a final EIS. Following this, a determination will be made by the U.S. State Department on whether the proposed Keystone XL project serves the national interest. The national interest determination will involve consideration of many factors, including: energy security, environmental, foreign policy, economic and relevant federal regulations. Even with minimal delays it appears that this process will not be completed until at least the middle of this year.