The operator of the long-delayed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline said Thursday it will ask South Dakota's utility regulators to recertify the portion of the project that runs through the state before the end of the month.
The president of Keystone Projects for TransCananda Corp., Corey Goulet, said the state's Public Utilities Commission must re-certify that the conditions for construction of that portion of the nearly 1,200-mile pipeline have not changed since the permits were issued four years ago.
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Goulet said the company will submit the petition Sept. 15.
"What we are doing is providing a petition that shows that if anything, the conditions are better than they were previously," Goulet said, adding that the construction conditions have improved in part because of nearly 60 stipulations that the federal government imposed on the project since it was first approved by the commission. The three commissioners will determine the process to recertify the pipeline.
The proposed project would transport oil from Canadian tar sands through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines to carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day to refineries along the Gulf Coast.
Advocates say it will create thousands of jobs and aid energy independence, but environmentalists warn of possible spills and say transporting oil will eventually contribute to global warming.
The State Department said in a Jan. 31 report that building the pipeline would not significantly boost carbon emissions because the oil was likely to find its way to market by other means. It added that transporting it by rail or truck would cause greater environmental problems than if the Keystone XL pipeline were built.
The project has become a major flashpoint alongside the larger debate over carbon emissions, drilling policies and tax breaks for energy companies.
"I think the average person in America and South Dakota supports this project," Goulet said. "There is a minority of people that kind of fundamentally oppose this project because it's associated with energy from hydrocarbons."
Goulet said the project would generate $20 million in taxes per year for the counties through which the pipeline would run, as well as 4,200 jobs in the state and about $200 million in wages associated with those jobs.
The Obama administration said in April it was putting off its decision on whether to approve the pipeline indefinitely. A decision now isn't expected until after the November elections.
Goulet said TransCanada could be ready to begin construction in the last quarter of 2015 should the project receive presidential approval at the beginning of next year.