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HELENA - The Montana Department of Environmental Quality is taking public comment on a proposal to route a pipeline through Montana for transport of crude oil from Alberta to the Gulf Coast.

The Keystone XL Project would start at Hardisty, Alberta, and enter the United States near Montana's Port of Morgan. The line would pass east of Circle and Glasgow, continue through South Dakota and end at Steele City, Neb., connecting to another pipeline.

In Montana, plans call for the line to cross 220 miles of private land, 42 miles owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and 29 miles of state land. The project includes building seven pump stations in Montana and installing power lines for delivery of electricity to those stations.

TransCanada Keystone Pipeline of Calgary, Alberta, has applied to DEQ for authorization to build and operate the Montana segment of the line. The state agency is taking public comment through March 6. The application and maps are on the DEQ Web site and at public libraries in 10 communities: Malta, Plentywood, Culbertson, Glasgow, Circle, Baker, Wolf Point, Scobey, Glendive and Ekalaka.

The state and federal governments plan to prepare an environmental impact statement examining the need for the pipeline, its environmental effects and alternate routes. Public hearings on the draft of that document will be held.

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