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The Earliest We'll See The Keystone XL Pipeline Is Probably 2016

Rob Wile

There was a lot of confusion Friday — including on our end — about the State Department's Keystone Pipeline report Friday.

Though not the final say, the results of the Environmental Impact Assessment weren't exactly favorable to the projects opponents.

State found that not building the pipeline, which would transport 700,000 barrels of crude a day from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, would barely dent oil sands development. 

So while it now seems increasingly likely developer Transcanada will get its permit, the three-years-worth of delays mean the project will not be fully up and running until 2016, Reuters columnist Robert Campbell writes.

In an email, Campbell explained why it could take up to a year, before Transcanada is able to break ground, and thus another two years before crude starts flowing:

Currently EPA has to review the draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). Then they put it out for a 45-day comment period with a notice in Fed. Register. Then State has to compile all comments and answer any “substantive” criticisms of the draft SEIS before publishing a final version.

Once the final version is released there is a minimum 30-day period (again from Fed. Register publication date) before it is done.

THEN the relevant agency makes a finding whether or not the issuance of the permit is in the national interest after which there is a 15 day period for other agencies to object and kick it up to the white house.

So we have a minimum of 90 days of waiting/comment periods alone to work through.

Plus the work of compiling and answering criticism and comments unless they want to be overturned on judicial review. That will take some time as well.

So far the first 45-day countdown has not yet begun.

So it is not unreasonable to expect some slippage in the timetable.

He concludes: "People think this process is over, it has hardly begun. And don’t forget, once the decisions are made the lawsuits start."

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