The U.S. State Department issued an environmental assessment on Friday concluding that the revised route for the Keystone XL crude pipeline would not harm water or wildlife, clearing a hurdle for the project that has been pending for a decade.
A top concern of environmentalist was whether a crude oil spill along the revised route would impact groundwater, however the nearly 340-page draft review said otherwise.
“Prompt cleanup response would likely be capable of remediating the contaminated soils before the hazardous release reaches groundwater depth,” the review said.
A federal judge in Montana ordered the State Department to conduct the review last month. The new review needed to take into account new information relevant to a permit it issued for the pipeline last year.
The review added that implementation of the revised route would have “no significant direct, indirect or cumulative effects on the quality of the natural or human environments.”
Environmentalists, tribal groups, and ranchers were all in opposition to the $8 billion, 1,180 miles (1,900 km), pipeline that would carry heavy crude from Canada’s oil sands in Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska. Crude would be sent from there to refineries and potentially for export.
TransCanada Corp plans to start construction in 2019, spokesman Matthew John said.
The company’s Chief Executive, Russ Girling, said last month that it could make a final investment decision on the project late this year or in early 2019, pending some regulatory approvals and court challenges.
Despite the new review, environmentalists voiced their outrage.
“We’ve held off construction of this pipeline for 10 years, and regardless of this administration’s attempts to force this dirty tar sands pipeline on the American people, that fight will continue until Keystone XL is stopped once and for all,” said Kelly Martin, the Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign director for Sierra Club.