State Department “Final” Environmental Review of Proposed Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline is Still Incomplete

Final version claims “no significant impacts” despite missing in-depth assessments of key issues

WASHINGTON (August 26, 2011) -- The State Department released its final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline today. NRDC policy experts note that the final statement still lacks a number of in-depth safety and pollution studies, despite a claim from the Obama administration that the pipeline would have “no significant impacts.”

The issues at the heart of the public outcry over Keystone XL are also among the critical elements missing in-depth review, including:

  • studies of pipeline safety issues
  • added pollution in refinery communities
  • alternate routes for the pipeline to spare the Nebraska Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer
  • special assessment of wildlife impacts from the Fish and Wildlife Service.

While the FEIS is a significant milestone, it is one of many components in the permitting process,  which still requires a national interest determination, public meetings and a host of other decisions at the Federal and State level before a final decision is made as to whether the pipeline project will proceed or not.

Following is a statement from NRDC international program director Susan Casey-Lefkowitz:

“Once again, the State Department has failed to do its homework, and they’re leaving the American public to suffer the consequences. 

“It is utterly beyond me how the administration can claim the pipeline will have ‘no significant impacts’ if they haven’t bothered to do in-depth studies around the issues of contention. The public has made their concerns clear and the administration seems to have ignored them. If permitted, the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will be a dirty legacy that will haunt President Obama and Secretary Clinton for years to come.

“We’ll be digging deeper into the State Department’s final environmental review of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, but we have seen no evidence of the in-depth studies that are required for the Obama administration to live up to its promise.  Despite assurances, this review seems to be far from a ‘thorough and objective’ assessment of critical health and safety issues that landowners and community members will be dealing with should this project be built. 

“An administration committed to fighting climate change and building a clean energy economy in the United States must be more stringent in evaluating the vast impacts of this dirty and unnecessary project.

“With the Yellowstone River and Kalamazoo River spills still being cleaned up in the background, the lack of a deeper look at the pipeline safety issues presented by the unique raw tar sands oil that would be moved in this project is inexcusable.

“Secretary Clinton promised to ‘leave no stone unturned’ in this process, but she didn’t really need to look that hard. Keystone XL is rife with issues that exacerbate climate change and environmental injustices ---two things that were supposed to be a focus for the administration, but have been glossed over. Especially given that there is no need for this pipeline in the United States, it is not worth the many environmental and safety risks.”

NRDC senior energy advisor Danielle Droitsch has blogged in further detail on the FEIS at

The FEIS is available online at