TransCanada submits new Keystone XL pipeline plan
Even though Obama issued a controversial order halting its progress, the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline is once again on track for bureaucratic review after TransCanada submitted a new route through Nebraska designed to avoid environmentally sensitive areas.
This new plan, which TransCanada submitted to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality on Wednesday, takes the Keystone project out of the deep freeze that began in January when Obama agreed with the recommendation of the State Department to reject the initial pipeline application. The plan allows Nebraska officials to review the impact of the pipeline’s adjusted route.
It will also open the door for the pipeline’s builder, TransCanada, to submit a new complete proposal covering the entire length of the pipeline to the State Department for its review. That federal approval is a must, because the pipeline, which will originate in Alberta, Canada, must cross the border for oil to reach gulf coast refineries.
But the environmentalists have geared up already planning to fight oil production, focused on concerns that the pipeline would harm Nebraska’s sensitive Sand Hills region. The formal effort by TransCanada and Nebraska officials to find a new route officially stopped with the president’s January announcement. Then this past week, Nebraska lawmakers approved legislation allowing for the review process to resume.
“Nebraska will move forward on the review process of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and any future pipelines that will create jobs and reduce U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil,” Republican Gov. Dave Heineman said in a statement Tuesday after signing the bill. “The review process is a top priority for Nebraska.”
Now that review is going to be conducted by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and is expected to take several months. Neineman expects an approval, before the November election. A draft report will be open to public review before a final environmental impact assessment is determined.
The pipeline project has been a political fight in Washington as Republicans have blasted Obama for what they see is intransigence over keeping the pipeline bottled up. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has said he’ll pass an executive order on “day one” to allow construction.
Pipeline supporters say this will create thousands of jobs, and therefore is reason to okay the project. “They’ve had three years of an environmental assessment that they’ve looked at this full route,” American Petroleum Institute’s Cindy Schild said in an interview. “So they should have a pretty good handle on the environmental impacts.”
TransCanada officials are optimistic that the pipeline will be green-lighted and project a construction start date for early next year with oil flowing in 2015, but the resistance in Washington has caused political leaders in Canada to reassess their position in the global energy market. Huge containment vats at TransCanada’s terminal in Hardisty, Alberta, are already under construction. They’re supposed to be used for the Keystone pipeline, but plans also could shift to skip the U.S. altogether.
TransCanada CEO Russ Girling noted that demand for Canadian oil will all but guarantee that the pipeline is built — if not south into the United States, then likely west towards the Pacific Ocean with access to Asia.
Assistant Secretary Kerri-Ann Jones told reporters several months ago that officials will make use of all available information but, if TransCanada comes in with a new application, it will trigger a new review process, a completely new review process. State Department officials told members of Congress that a 2013 approval decision is still feasible, noting that the reason for the original denial was “not based on the merits of the project.”
Tags: American Petroleum Institute’s Cindy Schild, Assistant Secretary Kerri-Ann Jones, environmentalists still oppose plan, Keystone XL pipeline, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, new plans submitted, Republican Gov. Dave Heineman, State Department, TransCanada, TransCanada CEO Russ Girling
This entry was posted on Sunday, April 22nd, 2012 at 6:00 pm and is filed under Finance and Business, General, In the News, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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