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Part 1: Keystone XL pipeline protesters rally in North America

The Canada-U.S. collaboration of the Calgary-based TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline project is almost a reality after the U.S. State Department released the Final Environmental Impact Statement, claiming there were “no significant risks on the pipeline” if the environmental protection measures are followed. However, environmentalists in North America vehemently protested its inevitability on August 26, 2011. Rallies intensified in Washington and elsewhere with 1252 people arrested including actors Margot Kidder and Fort McMurray Alberta-born Tantoo Cardinal. The $7 billion dollar project is heating up the debate on both sides of the border and there will be more rallies in the future.

The Keystone XL pipeline crosses a large portion of Canada and the U.S. cutting through the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba while in the U.S., the states affected will be Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. A detailed map can be viewed on the TransCanada website.

Although the regulatory hurdle for the Keystone XL pipeline has been cleared, there is one last phase that must be approved before it’s a done deal. It will take 90 days for the U.S. State Department to grant a presidential permit after completing a “national interest determination” which is needed especially since this pipeline will straddle both Canada and the United States. Upon approval of this deal, the pipeline could be operational by mid 2013 and will transport 500,000 barrels of crude oil every day from the oil sands in Alberta to the U.S., making up 2.5% of the US oil supply. However, no decision will be made about the Keystone XL pipeline until late 2011.

The report took three years to complete and though it appears to be “balanced and based on facts not emotions,” according to Alberta’s Energy Minister Ron Liepert, State Department officials “failed to conduct many of the studies the environmentalists were demanding.” View article Keystone pipeline clears major hurdle from the CBC.ca website.

Key concerns with this deal focus on safety, protection of the environment and landowner rights. There will be nine public hearings at locations near the pipeline that will include federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, citizens in the affected areas and environmentalists interested in commenting on the project and voicing their concerns.

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