Keystone XL Pipeline Project: Key Issues [May 7, 2013]   [open pdf - 766KB]

"TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL Pipeline would transport oil sands crude from Canada and shale oil produced in North Dakota and Montana to a market hub in Nebraska for further delivery to Gulf Coast refineries. The pipeline would consist of 875 miles of 36-inch pipe with the capacity to transport 830,000 barrels per day. Because it would cross the Canadian-U.S. border, construction of Keystone XL requires a Presidential Permit from the State Department. A decision to issue or deny a Presidential Permit is based on a determination that a project would serve the national interest, considering potential impacts on the environment, the economy, energy security, foreign policy, and other factors. Environmental impacts are evaluated and documented in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). TransCanada originally applied for a Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline in 2008. The initial proposal included a southern segment from Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast. After a final EIS for the original project was released in August 2011, the State Department began a 90-day public review period to make its national interest determination. A key issue that arose during this review was concern over environmental impacts in the Sand Hills region of Nebraska. This concern led the Nebraska legislature to enact new state pipeline siting requirements that would alter the pipeline route through Nebraska. In January 2012, the State Department concluded that it would not have sufficient information to evaluate an altered pipeline route before a deadline imposed by Congress and denied the permit. The southern segment of the original Keystone XL proposal, now called the Gulf Coast Project, was subsequently separated from the original proposal because it did not require a Presidential Permit. It has been approved by the relevant states and is currently under construction."

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CRS Report for Congress, R41668
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