DEQ Is Seeking Public Comment On Issuing 401 Water Quality Certification For Keystone XL Pipeline Project

Agency will hold remote public hearing in November


September 30, 2020 | View PDF

Helena - The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is seeking public comment and holding a remote public hearing on the tentative determination to issue a Water Quality Certification for the Keystone XL Pipeline project in eastern Montana under section 401 of the Clean Water Act.

The project requires a water quality certification because the pipeline would cross 201 wetland and water body features that are regulated under the Clean Water Act. A 36-inch diameter pipeline would be installed at water body crossings by creating an open, dry trench or by drilling under those water bodies. The open-cut, wet method of constructing stream crossings is not allowed if water is present at the time of construction. For specific rivers, the applicant would drill under the water bodies to avoid water quality impacts—those rivers are the Milk, Missouri and Yellowstone. The crossings are located in the following Montana counties: Phillips, Valley, McCone, Dawson, Prairie and Fallon.

DEQ’s role is to review the application and determine if it meets state and federal water quality standards. DEQ has made the tentative determination that this project, in its current form and with the proposed state conditions, does not violate water quality standards. Issuance of the certification does not authorize the applicant to exceed applicable water quality standards.

The project would result in the permanent disturbance of roughly 0.06 acres of wetlands and 0.04 acres of water bodies for permanent access roads. The 401 Water Quality Certification only addresses water quality impacts and does not assess other possible impacts of the project. DEQ has already disclosed the other potential impacts from the project under the Major Facility Siting Act (MFSA), which required an environmental review and public input.

DEQ will host a remote public hearing on Nov. 16, to provide the public with information on the proposed issuance and to give the public an opportunity to comment. The remote hearing will be held via Zoom from 4-8 p.m., accessible both online and by telephone. DEQ will give a presentation on the 401 Water Quality Certification for this project, followed by the opportunity for the public to provide comments.

What: A remote public hearing held via Zoom.

When: Monday, Nov. 16, 4-8 p.m. MST (please log-on 10 minutes early to test your connection)

Where: Participants can sign up to attend the hearing and receive instructions about how to access the meeting. To request access visit: or call Moira Davin, Public Relations Specialist, at: 406-461-2503. The meeting is accessible both online and by telephone. DEQ will make reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities who wish to participate in the meeting. If you require an accommodation, please contact DEQ using the information above at least one week prior to the meeting.

The public has the opportunity to provide written comments on the issuance of the 401 Water Quality Certification for the Keystone XL Pipeline project. Written comments may be submitted by mail to: DEQ Water Quality Division, Water Protection Bureau, PO Box 200901, Helena, MT 59620. To view the application and submit comments electronically visit:

All comments must be received or postmarked by Nov. 30, to be considered.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are also reviewing the project under the Clean Water Act. They held a separate public hearing on Sept. 28. Montana’s issuance of the certification depends on the final issuance of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


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