On Friday, State Department officials released the final environmental impact statement for TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, concluding that the project would not substantially increase carbon emissions, and clearing the way for State Department and White House approval.
The pipeline—which would extend 1,179 miles from western Canada through Steele City, Nebraska—would allow delivery of 830,000 barrels of crude oil from shale formations in Canada and the western United States.
Consistent with the report’s conclusions, the oil industry has maintained that oil production will continue with or without the pipeline, but with potentially higher costs and greater safety concerns. Without the pipeline, oil from Canada will likely be imported by rail, which the report estimates could result in approximately six additional deaths each year from shipping-related accidents, as well as 28-40 percent higher emissions than transporting the same amount of oil by pipeline.
The report estimates that the pipeline could contribute $3.4 billion dollars to the U.S. economy, including the creation of 1,950 temporary construction jobs and 50 permanent, high-paying jobs. A separate study put the number of construction jobs closer to 4,000.
Environmental groups, on the other hand, have criticized the report, calling its objectivity into question after documents revealed that some of the consultants who contributed to the report had previously done work for TransCanada.
A decision from the State Department is expected by the end of 2014.