by Jeremy Moule
Consider it an Earth Day gift: yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency submitted its comments on the State Department's Keystone XL environmental review. In short, EPA officials say the review doesn't contain enough information on some critical areas, including greenhouse gas emissions, pipeline safety, and alternative routes.
The State Department oversees the approval process for the pipeline because the pipeline crosses the US-Canada border. And yesterday was the last day the department accepted comments on the draft environmental statement. In the current review, and a previous one, the State Department said that the pipeline would not have a significant environmental impact.
Keystone XL is a pipeline expansion, proposed by TransCanada, that would carry heavy crude from the Alberta tar sands to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico. And the project's critics say it would have a significant environmental impact. They say that it would encourage continued exploitation of the tar sands, which are water and energy intensive and have a higher carbon footprint than other oil sources and types.
The pipeline, as proposed, would also pass through the Ogallala aquifer, a massive and important water source for some Great Plains and Western states. Critics say a spill from the pipeline could be catastrophic for the aquifer.
In an article published yesterday, the Los Angeles Times says that the EPA's comments could cause problems for the project. The article also says that the EPA's criticisms "could also end up as supporting evidence in litigation against the pipeline if it is approved."