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KXL Pipeline Comments Due in April

Route of proposed KXL pipeline. Click here for more
Keystone XL Pipeline maps
The Keystone XL Pipeline, proposed to import Canadian tar sands oil, is being assessed by the State Department for environmental impact, with public comments due in April. (Groups have asked for an extension.)

The KXL Pipeline would traverse 875 miles from the northern Montana border to Steele City, Nebraska, where it would connect with pipeline carrying it to the refineries and export terminals of the Texas Gulf coast. The capacity would be 890,000 barrels of oil per day.

Proponents say KXL would bring jobs to the US while supplying it with a source of crude from a stable neighbor. Critics point out that tar sands are dirtier than conventional oil, destroying forest land when extracted and releasing 17 percent more carbon dioxide when burned.

KXL Statistics from State

With over a thousand pages of documents, the draft supplemental environmental impact statement asserts that about 3.19 million metric tons of carbon dioxide will be emitted to provide electricity for pumping diluted bitumen (the tar sand petroleum product). Click here for maps of the proposed pipeline.

But there is a range of opinion about the effects of significantly increasing the transport of carbon-heavy tar sands to refineries. The State Department estimates that if the KXL pipeline is disapproved there would be 5.3 million tonnes less of carbon produced each year because relatively cleaner oil would be processed instead. Others have said this figure is closer to 23 million tonnes.

The pipeline comes within one mile of about 2,500 wells and crosses over the Ogallala Aquifer, a source of drinking and irrigation water. Native groups have protested the pipeline vigorously.