Ellison, McCollum express concern about expansion of Keystone pipeline

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Minnesota Reps. Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum are among 34 Democrats expressing concern over an expansion to the Keystone pipeline, a 1,700-mile pipeline that’d carry some 700,000 barrels of oil extracted from Canadian tar sands from Alberta to Texas each day. In a letter to Environmental Protection Agency head Lisa Jackson and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the legislators asked for a meeting with State Department officials over concerns with the environmental impact of the line.

In April, the State Deparment released a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, but the legislators say they still have concerns. “In fact, EPA gave the draft EIS its lowest possible rating,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter dated Tuesday. “After reviewing the SDEIS, we still do not believe that the State Department has sufficiently addressed EPA’s concerns.”

They urge that permitting for the expansion continue only after issues like its greenhouse gas impacts, alternative routes, safety risks and impacts on low-income communities are analyzed. They also called for a 120-day public review period and hearings in states along the pipeline’s route.

House Republicans have been trying to fast-track approval for the pipeline, but many, including conservation groups and state lawmakers in Nebraska, have raised concerns about the project. A GOP House bill (pdf) seeks to force a decision from President Obama on the Keystone expansion no later than Nov. 1.

Read the letter here: Congressional-SDEIS-Letter-StateDepartment-EPA