Secretary Kerri-Ann Jones of Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs today announced the release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL project.
“We have produced a final environmental impact statement that thoroughly examines and assesses the potential environmental impacts of this proposed project.” – Ms. Jones
Ms. Jones highlighted that she has been looking at the press, she has noticed that some are touting that the statement is a victory and some are touting that it’s a loss. She clarified that these characterizations are wrong because she said this is not a decision document.
“This is a document that presents the analytical and the data information that we have regarding the environmental impacts. The process that was used to produce this impact statement looked to technical expertise across the U.S. Government and to engineering and technical experts outside of the U.S. Government, as well as extensive public feedback.” – Ms. Jones
She stated that they have listened to the comments received during this process and they have addressed the key issues raised in the final statement that we put out today.
Ms. Jones stressed that the Final Environmental Impact Statement responds to the comments they received and provides additional information and analysis on key topics. These topics include shallow aquifer systems, composition of crude oil, and potential for this pipeline to affect the development of the Canadian oil sands.
“The Final EIS also describes additional actions that the applicant will take to address environmental and safety concerns. The FEIS is not a decision. It is not the decision regarding the permit. The FEIS is one piece of the information that will be considered. Much information will be needed to inform the decision regarding this required permit.” – Ms. Jones
Ms. Jones announced also the next step of the process which is called the national interest determination. This is a 90-day period when they will consult with other U.S. Government agencies to define the national interest regarding this project. She noted that they have also decided that during the first few days of this 90-day period, they will have sessions for more additional public comments.
“These are not required, but we feel that because this is such an important project, we need to have more interaction with the public and we want to get as much feedback as possible and have this be as transparent as possible.” – Ms. Jones
Ms. Jones also stated that a notice of more meetings across the states where the proposed pipeline would be crossing will be sent. They will also have the opportunity for folks to comment via their website and also through mail.
She announced that the open comment period will be ending around the beginning of October, which will be when they have their last public meeting.