The US State Department announced today that an additional round of meetings in the states along the pipeline route will now take place.  The meetings will happen in the state capitols of the pipeline states.  Nebraska will get an additional meeting in the Sandhills and Texas will get an additional meeting along their coast.

We do not have the exact dates, but we know the meeting in Lincoln and the meeting in the Sandhills will take place in September.  

The meetings are critical because the concerns of Nebraskans will weigh on the decision Sec. Clinton makes to grant or deny TransCanada a permit to cross the US/Canadian border.

The final draft EIS will be issued in mid-August. Federal agencies will then have 90 days to file comments on the EIS and argue whether the permit of the pipeline is in the national interest. The public and state governments can make comments during this time as well. A meeting will take place in DC, and then a decision will be made. Federal agencies have the option of appealing the decision to the President.

On the call, the State Department says pipeline safety is one of their utmost concerns.

It is important to note a few things that are very important to Nebraskans and our elected officials:

  The route of the pipeline is up to state law, meaning that decision is up to Nebraska Unicameral and Governor. The US State Department studies routes that states or TransCanada gives them but does NOT determine routes. Since Nebraska has no laws about routing, TransCanada’s been making these decisions.

  Eminent domain is state law and the US State Dept. has no role in determining if TransCanada is overstepping their bounds, that must be determined by state.

  Rep. Lee Terry’s bill is unnecessary because the State Dept. is committed to completing the permit process in December, and his bill says they must decide by November. To put it more plainly: Rep. Terry is wasting taxpayers’ money for a bill that is unnecessary and going nowhere in the Senate.

  The State Department made it crystal clear that eminent domain and the route of the pipeline are up to state laws which means Governor Heineman,  Attorney General Bruning and our Nebraska Unicameral must get new state laws passed to protect the Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer.  The route is in their hands.

Detailed information on dates, times, and locations for public meetings will be published before the end of August on the website and we will post this on the Bold site as well.

Official Media Note from State Department, issued 1:30pm, July 22, 2011:

The U.S. Department of State plans to issue a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline in mid-August.

Following the issuance of a Final EIS, the next step is a 90-day review period where interested federal agencies, such as the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, will provide their views on whether issuance of a Presidential Permit would be in the national interest.

During September, the State Department will also host public meetings in each of the six states through which the proposed pipeline would pass. We plan to hold meetings in the state capitals of Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, with an additional meeting in the Sand Hills region in Nebraska and along the Gulf Coast near Port Arthur, Texas. This will be followed by a final public meeting in Washington, DC.

These meetings will give individuals an opportunity to voice their views on whether granting or denying a Presidential Permit for the pipeline would be in the national interest and to comment on economic, energy security, environmental and safety issues relevant to that determination.

Detailed information on dates, times, and locations for public meetings will be published before the end of August on the website

Keystone XL is a proposed 1700-mile oil pipeline from the U.S.-Canadian border in Montana, through Cushing, Oklahoma, to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Per Executive Order 13337, the State Department is responsible for reviewing the application for a Presidential Permit for the pipeline to cross the border between Canada and the United States. The Department is conducting a thorough and objective review process defined by law and Executive Order.

When released, the Final EIS and related documents will be available through the State Department’s website:

Although we expect to make a decision on whether to grant or deny the permit before the end of the year, we will not make a decision until we have completed this process.