Schweitzer Announces Keystone XL’s MFSA Approval

By Beacon Staff

The future of the Keystone XL pipeline is still uncertain at the federal level, but from Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s perspective, the issue has been all but cleared up at the state level.

Schweitzer announced Thursday that TransCanada, Keystone XL’s owner, has fulfilled its obligations under Montana’s Major Facility Siting Act (MFSA). Within the next several weeks, according to a release from the governor’s office, the state Department of Environmental Quality will issue TransCanada its MFSA permit.

The release states that the $7 billion proposed project would include more than $1 billion in construction in Montana and help create 1,200 “high-paying construction jobs.”

“In addition to the $100 million access on-ramp for Montana-produced oil that the company previously agreed to, I approved this permit with the requirement to post a $100 million bond to cover potential problems that might occur with the pipeline in Montana,” Schweitzer said. “The requirement for this bond is made possible by Montana’s statutory MFSA authority.”

TransCanada’s Alex Pourbaix, president, Energy and Oil Pipelines, said “Governor Schweitzer has long recognized the importance of Keystone XL.”

“We thank Governor Schweitzer for his support and leadership in granting our Montana’s Major Facility Siting Act certificate. This certificate would allow TransCanada to proceed with construction of Keystone XL if federal approval is received,” he said in the release.

Of course, this doesn’t mean much until the project gets approved by the federal government. And with President Barack Obama saying a decision likely won’t be made until 2013, Schweitzer will have to remain patient. In any case, the governor believes Montana can be a model for the Obama administration and other states.

“Now that Montana has done its part in ensuring this important project can move forward,” Schweitzer’s release states, “it is essential that the state of Nebraska and its representatives in Washington DC get things moving. Montana, with one of the more rigorous pipeline approval processes in the nation, has acted more quickly than Nebraska or the federal government.”