State Department posts feedback on Keystone pipeline
By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The State Department says it is taking the unusual step of releasing publicly the feedback it has received about a controversial pipeline project after an "unprecedented" response to its draft environmental report.
The department said it had received more than 1.2 million comments on TransCanada Corp's (TRP.TO: Quote) proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would run from oil sands in Alberta, Canada to refineries and ports along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
The State Department posted about 100,000 comments late on Thursday and plans to release sets of a similar number each week, a process that will take about three months. The comments can be viewed at www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=DOS-2013-0011
"This marks the first time the Department has made all individual comments on a Presidential permit application available to the public," a State Department release said.
The northern leg of the pipeline running from Alberta to Nebraska needs the approval of President Barack Obama because it crosses a national border. Work is well under way on the southern leg, from Texas to Oklahoma.
The State Department said the decision to release the comments was part of an effort to be as transparent as possible about the elements that will go into the decision on whether to approve the project.
The first batch of comments reflected a variety of interests, from lawmakers to local citizens.
Echoing a fractious public hearing held by the State Department in Grand Island, Nebraska last month, they reflected the polarizing nature of the project. Respondents differed widely over the environmental and economic assessments. Continued...