Pipeline Gets Key Nebraska Approval
Gov. Heineman Says Yes To New Keystone XL Route; County Commissioners Expect Tax Revenue Here
By Samar Fay Courier Editor
Published: Thursday, January 24th, 2013
The governor of Nebraska on Tuesday approved the re-route of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL Pipeline through the state. Gov. Dave Heineman’s approval comes after his review of the final evaluation report from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and is the last step in the re-route review process established by the Nebraska state legislature. The pipeline permit now goes to the U.S. Department of State for final environmental review before going to President Barack Obama’s desk.
The new route avoids the sensitive Sand Hills and the Ogallala Aquifer. The original route was contested by a coalition of farmers and environmentalists who were concerned about the possibility of a spill. They were disappointed in the governor’s decision and urged the president to stand by his position on climate change and not sign the pipeline permit, saying the shale oil mined in Canada is a dirty fuel and will contribute to global warming.
In Montana, where the pipeline will enter north of Malta and cross five counties on its way south, the Keystone XL was generally welcomed. In Valley County, county commissioners and school district officials have been looking forward to receiving the tax revenue.
“I’m not at all surprised,” said County Commissioner Bruce Peterson Tuesday, when he was informed about Nebraska’s approval. “I think Nebraska hammered it out. The feds stepped back until the state was satisfied.”
Peterson said he expected the presidential decision this spring, and hoped work could start this year.
“The tax money would be nice. We’re not quite sure what the number is,” Peterson said.
He said the commissioners plan to use the additional money for infrastructure and will put some away for a rainy day.
Montana’s newly elected Congressman, Steve Daines, commended the approval of the new pipeline route and called for quick presidential action on the project.
“The construction of the Keystone XL pipeline doesn’t just signify another step toward North American energy independence. It means more good-paying Montana jobs that will help strengthen and grow our state’s economy,” Daines stated. “Nebraska Gov. Heineman’s announcement is welcome news, but it’s not the final step. It’s time for President Obama to act and approve this job-creating project without any further delay.”
"The need for Keystone XL continues to grow stronger as North American oil production increases and having the right infrastructure in place is critical to meet the goal of reducing dependence on foreign oil," said Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer. "Keystone XL is the most studied cross-border pipeline ever proposed, and it remains in America's national interests to approve a pipeline that will have a minimal impact on the environment."
The governor's letter to President Obama points out that the Nebraska DEQ’s final evaluation report made a number of important findings.
Construction and operation of the Keystone XL Pipeline is expected to have "minimal environmental impacts in Nebraska."
Normal operation of the pipeline is expected to have no effect on ground or surface water quality or use along the pipeline route in Nebraska. In the unlikely event of a spill from the pipeline, impacts on water resources would be localized and would not impact the Ogallala Aquifer as a whole.
TransCanada will implement a detailed emergency response plan for Keystone XL and is responsible for cleanup, remediation and compensation related to oil released from the pipeline.
The 57 special conditions TransCanada has agreed to adopt include burying the pipeline deeper underground, installing a higher number of data sensors and remote controlled shut-off valves and increased inspections and maintenance. TransCanada will also use special techniques to reduce disturbance and enhance pipeline safety near wetlands, rivers, residential and commercial areas, steep terrain and fragile soils.
This proposed oil pipeline is designed to carry about 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Hardisty, Alberta, and Baker, Mont., to delivery terminals in Steele City, Neb.
Keystone XL is estimated to cost about $5.3 billion to build and will support the creation of 9,000 jobs on the American portion of the pipeline and about 2,200 on the Canadian side. The projected in-service date for Keystone XL is late 2014 or early 2015, subject to approval of the company's Presidential Permit application.
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