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New Keystone pipeline route gets support from Nebraska legislators

November 18, 2011

When President Obama punted the final decision on Keystone XL until after the 2012 election, he put forward the idea that the threat of groundwater contamination required further review.  Specifically, environmental groups have warned of a threat to Nebraska’s Ogallala aquifer.  Responding quickly to Obama’s objections, TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline project, has already proposed a re-routing scheme that has support from key members, both Democrat and Republican, in Nebraska’s legislature:

On Nov. 14, TransCanada announced it supports proposed legislation within the State of Nebraska to move the Keystone XL pipeline project forward. If passed, this legislation, introduced the same day in the State legislature, will ensure a pipeline route will be developed in Nebraska that avoids the Sandhills.
TransCanada is pleased with the positive conversations it is having with Nebraska leaders, which have resulted in legislation that respects the concerns of Nebraskans and supports the development of the Keystone XL pipeline. TransCanada at the same time confirmed to state leaders that the route for Keystone XL will be changed and reaffirmed that Nebraskans will play an important role in determining the final route.

These developments in Nebraska follow the Nov. 10 announcement by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) that further assessment of alternative routes for Keystone XL was needed in Nebraska to move forward with the National Interest Determination. The proposed state legislation in Nebraska is a critical first step in that process.

Working together with the State Department, Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality will conduct an environmental assessment to define the best location for Keystone XL in Nebraska. TransCanada will work closely with these agencies and provide them with the information they need to complete a thorough review that addresses concerns regarding the Sandhills region.

In short, there is no longer any need to defer the decision, at least not for 15 months.  The State Department can expedite consideration and have a decision by early next year.  The ball is back in the administration’s court.

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