Environmental Protection

Keystone XL Public Meeting Announced

Heartland Events Center in Grand Island, Neb., is the site of the April 18 "listening session" that follows release of the State Department's Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.

Sandwiched into the Grand Island, Neb., Heartland Events Center's April events calendar between a tough upcoming match for the Platte Valley Roller Vixens and an AKC dog show is an April 18 meeting that might attract millions of attendees, if only that many people were aware of it and could manage to attend. The State Department announced it will hold the meeting to accept comments about the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement it released March 1 for the proposed extension of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada's oil sands to the Texas Gulf Coast.

The center's online calendar and floor plans indicate the meeting will be held in an arena and a conference center that in combination can accommodate 6,450 people. The meeting will take place from noon to 3:30 p.m. and 4-8 p.m., with registration starting at 11 a.m. Anyone who wants to speak during the meeting must sign up in person at the entrance and must be present when called, or else the person will forfeit his or her time, the notice says.

The State Department's notice of the meeting says it will be "a listening session: the Department of State will not be responding to questions or comments at the meeting."

Written comments are still being accepted by mail or email (the email address is keystonecomments@state.gov) until April 22.

After the meeting, the department will issue a final SEIS and then will lead an inter-agency inquiry into whether the proposed extension serves the national interest, based upon factors that include energy security; environmental, cultural, and economic impacts; foreign policy; and compliance with federal regulations and issues.

Environmental groups and their allies, such as Public Citizen, vigorously oppose the extension, but TransCanada Corporation President and CEO Russ Girling said the Draft EIS confirms it should be approved and built: "Completing the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Keystone XL is an important step towards receiving a Presidential Permit for this critical energy infrastructure project," he said after the document's release. "No one has a stronger interest than TransCanada does in making sure that Keystone XL operates safely, and more than four years of exhaustive study and environmental review show the care and attention we have placed on ensuring this is the safest oil pipeline built to date in the United States."

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