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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

TransCanada Alters Keystone XL Route To Speed Approval

TransCanada Corporation, the company behind a $7 billion proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would carry oil sands crude from Alberta to Texas, agreed Monday to alter the route of the project. TransCanada is supporting Congressional legislation to reroute the Keystone XL pipeline around the Sand Hills of Nebraska, an environmentally sensitive area that has become the center of opposition to the pipeline in the state. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would carry oil sands crude from Alberta to refineries in Texas.

The announcement comes several days after the State Department announced it would evaluate alternative routes to avoid the Nebraska Sand Hills, which includes a vital aquifer in the state. The decision to evaluate alternative routes will delay a final verdict on the project until after the 2012 election, a move that spares President Obama from political backlash.

TransCanada will work with the State Department and Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality to determine a new pipeline route. A new environmental review will be required as well, which the State Department said last week could take until early 2013. The move likely will not appease environmental groups, but it leaves the groups with less backing for opposition to the project.

Monday’s announcement could lessen opposition to the Keystone XL project in Nebraska. The state legislature is in midst of a special session to consider legislation to reroute the project. Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R), for example, has said he isn’t opposed to the pipeline in theory, but objects to the route. Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who has also said he opposes the pipeline route, hailed the agreement Monday.

House Republicans are weighing new legislation that would ensure a faster process to re-route the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline than the Obama administration is planning. Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) said he spoke briefly on the House floor Monday with House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) about legislation that would have state and federal officials work together to ensure a new siting and environmental study within six months. This schedule would  be faster than the State Department's projected timeline. The House passed legislation earlier this year that would force the administration to make a final decision on the Keystone XL project by Nov. 1 of this year, but it was not taken up in the Senate. (The Hill, 11/14/2011, The Hill, 11/14/2011)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Parallel the existing pipeline and all the environmental issues would be concentrated in the same places issue resolved.