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Gov't gives preliminary ok to pipeline that will end near STL


Washington, DC – The State Department has given preliminary approval to a proposed $2 billion pipeline that would pump crude oil from Canada to refineries near Patoka, Ill., east of St. Louis.

The State Department's draft environmental impact statement says the construction of TransCanada company's Keystone pipeline is an "environmentally acceptable action."

To see a map of the proposed
pipeline, click on the map below


The agency also says the crude oil pipeline would result in "limited adverse environmental impacts during construction and operation."

Elizabeth Orlando, the State Department's project manager working with the pipeline, says meetings to gather public comments on the draft environmental impact statement began Wednesday in Missouri. Other meetings are planned in states along the proposed route.

The State Department says it will make a final determination on the project in December. The company says it hopes to begin construction on the project next spring.

In all, the Keystone pipeline, as it's called, will stretch more than 1,800 miles, carrying crude oil Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, on the way to Patoka, Ill. Patoka is about 80 miles east of St. Louis.

The 800-page draft environmental impact statement took a year to craft, after comments from the public and federal and state agencies, said Elizabeth Orlando, the State Department's project manager working with the pipeline.

"There has not been any real opposition," Orlando said. "There is no known major group opposing it. Most of the concerns have been from individual landowners concerned about impacts to their properties."

Shela Shapiro, a spokeswoman for TransCanada, said the company is negotiating easements with U.S. landowners along the route.

The company estimates about 17,000 acres of farm and ranch land would be taken out of production during the pipeline's 18-month construction period. Keystone would compensate for agricultural losses, under the terms of the permit, the State Department said.

TransCanada will not comment on the State Department's preliminary assessment of the project, Shapiro said.

"We have nothing really to say until the final one is issued," Shapiro said. "We will continue to work with the State Department as the process goes on."

Orlando said the company still must get various state and federal permits before the pipeline is built. The State Department's review is the largest and most important in the process, she said.

"This one gets them over the border," Orlando said.

The review of the project also was the largest in the agency's history, she said. "We have tried to address fellow agencies' concerns so they don't have to do the work, too," Orlando said.

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