As the US Senate, House, multiple states and local governments and US based advocacy groups have lobbied and postured regarding the Keystone XL pipeline, TransCanada has watched and met with various groups but until Monday have not made much comment regarding the interchange that significantly will impact the population and economy of eastern Montana. On Monday the company released a statement that says they “Acknowledge and respect the discussion that has occurred in Washington in recent weeks as members of Congress have thoughtfully debated the role Keystone XL will play in meeting U.S. energy independence needs and creating jobs, all with a long-term respect for the environment.”
The company also said that they will work with the Department of State to do whatever is necessary if the Bill is ultimately passed and the 60-day time frame, as outlined in the legislation, comes into effect.
Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer noted that “The over three-year review process for Keystone XL has become the most detailed and comprehensive environmental review ever undertaken for a cross border pipeline. We look forward to learning in the coming days how this latest development will affect the ultimate approval process for our project.”
Grisling credited Montana Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) and North Dakota Senator John Hoevan (R-ND) with helping to push the bill through.
What does the Senate bill provide for?
The Bill provides that unless the President publicly determines that Keystone XL is not in the national interest, the Secretary of State must issue a permit for Keystone XL that allows construction of the pipeline to begin in five of the six states that it would cross. The only state in which construction could not begin immediately is Nebraska, where, according to TransCanada officials, the route of the pipeline is being shifted to avoid the Sandhills.
The Bill seeks to establish a reasonable and practical middle ground that provides for the concerns regarding the route in Nebraska to be fully addressed while avoiding unnecessary construction delays in the other states that the Keystone XL pipeline crosses.
Construction would be approved for five of the six states the pipeline will cross while the State Department and TransCanada work together to re-route the Nebraska portion of the line.
The Bill requires the permit for Keystone XL to contain strong and specific environmental protections and protect states’ rights.
Girling also said that by TransCanada making a commitment to continue to focus their efforts on collaborating with Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality, the state and the federal State Department on an alternative route that avoids Nebraska’s Sandhills should mean they cleared the last remaining hurdle in the review process as outlined by the Department of State November 10. He added “Moving us toward a determination that Keystone XL is indeed in the national interest of the United States, allowing us to put Americans to work and enhance national security.”