State Department Won’t Release Comments on Keystone Study

The U.S. State Department will not make public the responses it receives to a draft analysis that found the Keystone XL pipeline posed no significant risks to the environment.

The department is accepting comments to a draft study, which environmental groups have criticized for underplaying Keystone’s potential effect on greenhouse gas emissions. TransCanada Corp. is proposing to build the project to link Alberta’s oil sands with refineries in the Gulf Coast.

“Consistent with past practice, the department does not plan to make individual comments public,” the State Department said today in an e-mailed statement.

Comments will be summarized in an appendix to the final version of environmental impact analysis, the department said.

“By not posting public comments online, they’re limiting the level of dialogue and public participation,” because stakeholders often respond to one another, Sofia Plagakis, an environmental right-to-know policy analyst at the Center for Effective Government in Washington, said in an interview.

Other agencies are “more proactive and transparent in posting public comments,” Plagakis said.

Daniel Kessler, a spokesman for, an environmental group that supports public policies to lower carbon dioxide emissions in response to climate change, said the organization is is planning to collect comments and deliver them to the State Department on Earth Day, April 22 -- end of the comment period.

Million Comments

Kessler said the group expects to collect more than a million comments critical of State Department analysis.

Environmentalists oppose the project in part because producing fuel from oil sands produces more carbon dioxide than most forms on conventional drilling.

The draft assessment, released this month, makes no recommendation as to whether the Keystone pipeline should be built. It said the oil sands would be developed with or without Keystone, so the pipeline’s effect on total emissions would be negligible.

Some supporters see the draft analysis as an indication President Barack Obama will eventually approve the project.

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