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David Domina memo to Nebraska Easement Action Team (N.E.A.T.)

David Domina memo to Nebraska Easement Action Team (N.E.A.T.)

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Published by hefflinger
Review of the State Department's Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) for the Keystone XL pipeline. Feb. 9, 2014
Review of the State Department's Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) for the Keystone XL pipeline. Feb. 9, 2014

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Published by: hefflinger on Feb 11, 2014
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02/16/2014

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BZ0872
To: Nebraska Easement Action Team Officers and Directors From: David A. Domina
Confidential
 until approved for Release by NEAT Board. (See ¶ 29) Date: February 9, 2014 Re: Confidential. Brief Review of 1/31/14
Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement 
, Keystone XL Project, U.S. Department of State.
Introduction
1.
 
The U.S. State Dept.’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS or Report) on the TransCanada Keystone Pipeline LP
1
 application for a Presidential Border Crossing Permit for its proposed pipeline is out. The Report was issued January 31, 2014. The proposed structure would transport tar sands oil from northwestern Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico for refining there, or along the way, and for export when refined. The State Dept. Study’s project manager is Genevieve Walker, 2201 C Street NW, Room 2726, Washington DC 20520. Cooperation in the EIS came from ten (10) federal agencies or sub-agencies, one assisting federal agency, and various state and local agencies, including the  Nebraska Dept. of Environmental Quality. The EIS is found in eleven (11) volumes, including appendices.
2
 These general comments provide overview from a quick reading; they are not exhaustive. The EIS is issued to evaluate proposed  project compliance with the National Environmental Protection Act.
3
 2.
 
The
Background
 section recites that TransCanada’s first application was filed 9/19/08. This Section notes previous “concerns over the environmentally sensitive Sand Hills Region of Nebraska”. It recites that a special session of the Nebraska Legislature was called to deal with the subject in Nebraska, but it details no results of the State Legislature’s action. This EIS does not recite that the action taken by the Special Session was later undone by the Legislature in LB1161. It does not note that a serious challenge to LB1161’s validity is awaiting a judicial decision.
1
 The EIS does not detail who TransCanada Keystone Pipeline LP is, or is owned by. TransCanada is an affiliate of Marketlink, LLC as disclosed by an agency ruling of 7-31-13, by the
Federal Energy Regulatory
 
Comm’n
 (FERC). 144 FERC P 51086, 2013 WL3942992.
2
 Through Executive Order (“E.O.”) 13337, 69 Fed. Reg. 25,299 (May 5, 2004), the President of the United States delegated to the Department of State a narrow measure of his constitutional authority over foreign relations and management of international borders. Specifically, the Department of State makes a national interest determination approving or denying applications for the construction, connection, operation or maintenance of any facility at the  border of the United States that involves the exportation or importation of petroleum and other fuels.
3
 NEPA serves the goal of “ensur[ing] that the agency will inform the public that it has indeed considered environmental concerns in its decision making process.”
 Baltimore Gas & Elec. Co. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.,
 462 U.S. 87, 97 (1983).
 
To: Nebraska Easement Action Team Officers and Directors February 9, 2014 Page 2
The EIS notes that on 5/4/12 (after constitutionally tenuous LB1161 was enacted in Nebraska) TransCanada filed a new application for a Presidential Permit. On 5/24/12 the NDEQ entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the State Dept. for a collaborative environmental analysis of alternative routes within  Nebraska consistent with NEPA. Nebraska’s governor approved on 1/22/13. The Report notes that the new proposed route is 509 miles shorter than the previous route overall, but nineteen (19) miles longer in Nebraska “to avoid sensitive areas including the NDEQ-identified Sand Hills Region”. It does not identify the construction costs reductions associated with the new route, which reduces project length by about 30%. 3.
 
It is unlikely Nebraskans will believe a nineteen (19) mile adjustment is sufficient to avoid the Ogallala Aquifer. The Sand Hills and the Aquifer do not overlap in  Nebraska. They do coincide in part, but only in part. The State Dept. EIS seems to confuse the Sand Hills with the Ogallala aquifer in several instances. 4.
 
The EIS is not a document that announces a decision about whether the border crossing will be permitted, or not.
4
 This remains a Presidential decision.
Overview of Proposed Project
5.
 
The
Proposed Project Overview
 recites that the project will now consist of 1,204 miles of thirty-six (36) inch diameter pipe. Of this, 327 miles will be in Nebraska and 875 miles in the United States. The pipeline will deliver 830,000 barrels per day of crude oil. 555,000 bpd (63.5%) of WCSB (“Western Canada Sedimentary Basin”) crude oil is contracted for delivery points in the Gulf Coast area. 155,000  bpd 26.5%) are to go to Cushing, Oklahoma to be refined.
Purpose, Role & Need
6.
 
The Overview says the Applicant’s stated that the “primary purpose … is to  provide the infrastructure to transport WCSB crude oil …” It will also supply some capacity for Bakken sweet crude oil. It proposes to make 100,000 bpd (11.4%) of project capacity available to the Bakken for U.S. produced oil. 7.
 
The purpose and role of the State Dept. EIS “is related to the conduct of foreign affairs.” The State Dept.’s national interest determination “takes into account many factors, including impacts associated with issuance of a permit, such as environmental, cultural and economic considerations”.
4
 State Dept.. Keystone XL Pipeline Fact Sheet, 2014. http://keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/documents/organization/221283.pdf;
 
To: Nebraska Easement Action Team Officers and Directors February 9, 2014 Page 3
Market Analysis
8.
 
The EIS contains a
market analysis
. This 150-page section discusses increased  production of crude oil, significant investments in the WCSB, and a projected capacity there of 700,000 bpd of crude oil by the end of 2014, with the likelihood that this will increase to 1.1 million bpd, consisting of conventional and oil sands oil. Interesting maps detailing locations, activities and circumstances, including construction sites along the way are noted so facilities might be utilized for offloading, etc. The EIS notes that “over the long term, lower-than-expected oil  prices could affect the outlook for oil sands production, and in certain scenarios higher transportation costs resulting from pipeline constraints could exacerbate the impacts of low prices.” P.1.4-8. The Report notes that “the dominant drivers of oil sands development are more global than any single infrastructural project oil sands  production and investment could slow or accelerate depending on oil price trends, regulations, and technological developments . . . .”
 Id 
. Observes: 8.1.
 
The EIS reviews the world market demand and the U.S. market. 8.2.
 
The EIS notes (1.4-25) that crude oil imports fell from 10.1 million bpd in 2005 to 8.5 million bpd in 2012 in the United States. 8.3.
 
Bitumen is discussed in some detail (1.4-29 et seq.) The EIS notes that “due to its viscosity, bitumen cannot be transported by pipeline on its own. It first must be mixed with a petroleum-based product (called a diluent) such as naphtha … or natural gas condensate…” The result is a dilbit, composed of 30% diluent and 70% bitumen. Bitumen can be transported to market by rail undiluted. Costs of oil sand production are discussed in detail (1.4-34 to 1.4-46). § 1.8 Preparation of Publication recites the  principal objections of this final supplemental EIS with four bullet points: 8.3.1.
 
Identify and assess potential impacts on the natural and human environment; 8.3.2.
 
Describe and evaluate reasonable alternatives, including a no action alternative; 8.3.3.
 
Identify and recommend specific mitigation measures; 8.3.4.
 
Facilitate public, tribal and agency involvement.

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