Gov. Steve Bullock today submitted comments on behalf of the State of Montana on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Draft SEIS) for the Proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, expressing concerns over the failure to adequately analyze potential spill impacts and response, cultural resource impacts, and fish and wildlife resource impacts.
“Dating back to my time serving as Montana’s Attorney General and throughout my two terms as Governor I have consistently expressed my view that development of Keystone XL must take into account the safety and security of the pipeline, the workers who will construct it, and the communities it will pass through,” wrote Bullock. “NEPA requires federal agencies take a ‘hard look’ at their proposals in light of available information, analysis, and the potential for environmental impacts. In our review, the state concludes that the Draft SEIS falls short of this requirement and remains deficient in several important ways.
The comments submitted by Bullock reflect the consolidated views of the Montana Departments of Environmental Quality, Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and Natural Resources and Conservation.
The most significant concerns raised by Bullock reflect a failure on the part of the federal agencies to adequately analyze potential impacts from a spill to water supplies based on the past experiences of spills in 2011 and 2015 on the Yellowstone River in Montana, and incomplete analysis of cultural resource impacts and consultation with potentially impacted Tribal Nations.
Additionally, the comments include an engineering study commissioned by the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to provide an independent perspective on potential spill impacts to irrigation and drinking water supplies. The study identifies the potentially impacted water infrastructure of Eastern Montana, evaluates the proposed project against design and safety standards, models potential spill scenarios and offers preliminary options to avoid or eliminate potential future impacts. While the study affirms that the proposed project meets and in some instances, surpasses federal pipeline safety standards, it also identifies limited potential for spills to result in exceedances of health and safety water quality standards at the sites of key water diversion infrastructure serving Eastern Montana. The study identifies several infrastructure investments that can further reduce or eliminate risks to drinking water supplies. The study is available here: http://dnrc.mt.gov/supplemental-eis-response
Bullock also wrote in his comments that, “We hope the State Department and the cooperating federal agencies are able to complete a full analysis of the project impacts to inform the public and ensure potential risks are fully mitigated.”