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Nebraska Governor and U.S. Senators Pile onto Clinton KXL Approval Remarks

October 21, 2010

Keystone XL news is coming fast and furious out of the State Department and Nebraska leadership today. It all started last week in San Francisco when Secretary of State Clinton made some comments about the State Department’s intention to grant a presidential permit for the pipeline. Her remarks came the day after Sen. Johanns of Nebraska sent his most recent letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressing concern about Keystone XL,

Senator Johanns reacted today with indignation, demanding an explanation for this “premature pipeline decision.”

Also today, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman weighed in with concerns of his own, expressed directly to Clinton. He writes:

Almost 300 miles of the proposed pipeline will come through Nebraska and be situated directly over the Ogallala Aquifer. This aquifer provides water to farmers and ranchers of Nebraska to raise livestock and grow crops…This resource is the lifeblood of Nebraska’s agriculture industry. In 2008, cash receipts from farm marketings contributed over $17 billion to Nebraska’s economy and 5 percent of the United States total. Nebraskans are concerned that the proposed pipeline route could contaminate Ogallala aquifer and I share that concern.

As if all this weren’t enough, U.S. Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska announced today that he’s joined the letter-writing party to Secretary Clinton. Nelson is also ruffled by Clinton’s apparent disregard for Nebraskans’ concerns, concluding his letter:

Madam Secretary, I hope you will clarify your remarks as to the status of the Keystone XL pipeline and ensure that a thorough review is conducted and that all state and federal requirements are met before approving the application.  Doing so will help in answering the many concerns and uncertainties raised by your comments and will ensure that whatever decision the State Department makes will take into full account the importance of the Ogallala Aquifer and the Sandhills to Nebraska’s livelihood.

Just to show that they are in fact paying attention, the State Department issued a press release today on the subject. The announcement from State doesn’t exactly illuminate the issue, but does sound as if Clinton plans to skip the supplemental EIS requested by EPA and Nebraska’s highest elected leadership. The text of the press release is below.

—–

The Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL pipeline is still being deliberated.

Once a Final Environmental Impact Statement is published, federal agencies will have an additional 90 days to comment on the Presidential Permit.

Currently, we are reviewing the thousands of comments received on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

We anticipate that responses to comments and any necessary edits to the Environmental Impact Statement will be completed before the end of the year.

When the Department has reviewed all comments, and has incorporated the appropriate edits into the Environmental Impact Statement, it will make a determination about the appropriate next step in the process.

The State Department recognizes the seriousness of all the viewpoints expressed about the Keystone XL project. We received thousands of comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, and are in the process of evaluating and responding to all of them.  To ensure a rigorous permitting process, the Department has undertaken a review consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act as well as the Presidential Permit (Executive Order 13337).

On June 16, the State Department formally solicited the views of all consulted federal agencies, requesting a response by September 15.  After further consultation with those agencies, the Department extended the time for all those agencies to provide their views to the Department within 90 days following issuance of the final Environmental Impact Statement.

According to Executive Order 13337, the Department of State, upon receipt of an application for a permit, requests the views of  the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, Interior, Justice, Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The State Department seriously considers all public comments received as part of the public comment process.

These include the comments we’ve received during the formal Notice and Comment process on the draft Environmental Impact Statement.   The period for those comments was extended until July 2, 2010.

They also include comments received at two public meetings on the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in Houston and Washington, D.C.

The Houston meeting took place on June 18.  The Washington meeting took place on June 29 at the Department of State.  Over 100 people attended and shared a variety of views, all of which were entered into the record.

We are now reviewing the public comments we have received and compiling them into a comment matrix that will be published as part of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).

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