TransCanada lauds Nebraska Keystone XL report; cites 'minimal environmental impacts'
Washington (Platts)--7Jan2013/1156 am EST/1656 GMT
TransCanada on Monday cheered an environmental report by Nebraska state
regulators on the proposed reroute of its Keystone XL oil pipeline, saying it
would have "minimal environmental impacts" on the state.
The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality last week sent its
final analysis of the pipeline route to Governor Dave Heineman.
"This report is the culmination of a rigorous and comprehensive review
by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, which included extensive
public input gathered during a seven month public comment period," said
Russell Girling, TransCanada's president and CEO, in a statement.
"TransCanada has made it a priority to work with Nebraskans to identify the
most appropriate route for this pipeline project and we look forward to
hearing from Governor Heineman regarding this report."
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While the agency concluded that TransCanada's latest proposal avoids the
sensitive Sandhills region, it still crosses the High Plains Aquifer, a giant
groundwater system that contains the Ogallala Aquifer.
TransCanada said normal operations of the pipeline would have no effect
on ground or surface water quality in Nebraska. If a spill happens, however,
the environmental damage would be "localized" and would not impact the
Ogallala Aquifer "as a whole," the company said.
"Safety remains our top priority," Girling said. "We will maintain a
Nebraska-based emergency preparedness program with a response team in place,
ready to react should an incident occur. The safety of the entire pipeline is
our responsibility for as long as it operates," he added. "It's a
responsibility we take very seriously."
Heineman has 30 days to review DEQ's report and decide whether to
endorse TransCanada's proposed route through the state. The US State
Department, which has final permitting authority because the pipeline crosses
the US-Canada border, will consider Heineman's recommendation before ruling
on TransCanada's application.
Citizens group Bold Nebraska continues to oppose the route, calling the
oil sands pipeline a threat to the state's water supply and the livelihoods
of ranchers and farmers. Organizer Jane Kleeb urged Heineman and President
Barack Obama last week to reject TransCanada's latest application.
Opposition from Heineman and Nebraska residents became a major sticking
point in the US State Department's review of the project in 2011. The White
House ultimately rejected TransCanada's first pipeline application in January
2012, blaming Congress for imposing an impossible-to-meet 60-day deadline for
TransCanada's original application envisioned a nearly 1,700-mile system
from Alberta's oil sands to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast, but
TransCanada has since split it in two.
The $5.3 billion northern segment will run 850 miles from Hardisty,
Alberta, to Steele City, Nebraska, carrying up to 700,000 b/d initially and
up to 830,000 b/d after planned pumping upgrades.
Separately, TransCanada has started construction on the $2.3 billion
southern segment, calling it the Gulf Coast Project, which will run from
Cushing, Oklahoma, to Nederland, Texas. That section has faced its own
delays, including regular demonstrations by pipeline opponents locking
themselves to logging machines and trees along the route.
--Meghan Gordon, email@example.com
--Edited by Richard Rubin, firstname.lastname@example.org