Cross-posted from Common Dreams
By Lauren McCauley
Agency questions assumptions of ‘inevitability’ and calls for further review of greenhouse gas emissions
On the final day of the Keystone XL public comment period for the State Department’s draft supplementary environmental impact statement (SEIS) of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a sharply critical assessment declaring the analysis “insufficient.”
The EPA’s objection is important, as theWashington Post explains, because it “not only provides opponents [of the pipeline] with political ammunition,” it could also “force President Obama to directly weigh in on the permitting decision” if the EPA raises similar objections to a possible ‘national interest determination’ by the State Department.
“As long as no other agency objects,” thePost continues, “State can issue a ruling on the pipeline on its own; if EPA challenges the national interest determination the State Department makes at the end of its review process, Obama himself would have to issue the final permit decision.”
In a letter (pdf) to the State Department sent Monday, the EPA outlines detailed objections to the assessment of Transcanada’s proposed pipeline project. The letter specifically questions the “inevitability” of the tar sands extraction, increased carbon pollution, additional energy associated with production, the difficulty of cleaning spilled bitumen and the environmental sensitivity of the proposed route.
“These findings by EPA help confirm what we have been saying all along,” writes the NRDC’s Elizabeth Shope. “The environmental review by the State Department is inadequate, and a proper environmental review for the risky Keystone XL tar sands pipeline showing the full risks to our land, air, water and climate from extracting, transporting and refining up to 830,000 barrels per day of dirty tar sands oil from Canada is not in our national interest.”
Analyzing the letter, Shope continues:
EPA rates the environmental impact statement with a 2