Keystone XL pipeline decisions to be probed by State Department
The State Department's inspector general's office will launch an inquiry into the department's decisions regarding the Keystone XL pipeline, which would ferry oil from Canada's tar sands formation across the Plains states to the Gulf of Mexico.
The inquiry, in response to a congressional request, will center on whether the department followed laws and regulations in preparing its environmental assessment and statement of national interest for the 1,700-mile-long pipeline.
The investigation was announced in a letter dated Friday but released Monday.
Among the complaints from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) are allegations that the pipeline company, TransCanada, was allowed to review applicants to prepare the environmental impact statement. A company that had done work for TransCanada was chosen. The request also asks the office to look into potential improper communication between the State Department and TransCanada.
Opponents of the project, including environmentalists and citizens in the states affected by the route, say the oil poses a spill threat to the massive Ogalalla aquifer, and that the extraction method creates large amounts of greenhouse gases. Proponents say the oil will help meet U.S. needs and produce jobs at a time of economic recession.
-- Geoff Mohan
Photo: Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline protest at the White House on Sunday. Credit: Evan Vucci / Associated Press