Gov. Dave Heineman says it’s time to move forward with finding an alternative route for the Keystone XL pipeline.
Heineman says TransCanada is simply following updated state law as it submits a proposed new route for the Keystone XL pipeline.
“It’s now time to move forward with that process and, eventually, it should reach my desk and I’ll make the recommendation at that time,” Heineman says.
TransCanada reached agreement with the state last year during a special session of the legislature. The company agreed to move its proposed route for the Keystone XL oil pipeline away from the Sand Hills and to avoid as much of the Ogallala Aquifer as possible. The company says the new route will go over the aquifer, but will not come into contact with it.
A spokesman for the company says it has already invested more than $2 million in the project and has obtained 90% of the easements necessary to construct the pipeline through Nebraska.
Heineman says he is glad to hear that the new route will avoid the Sand Hills and have little contact with the aquifer.
“I had concerns about the aquifer and the environmentally-sensitive Sand Hills area,” Heineman says. “That’s what the legislation required that we passed in special session.”
Gaining approval for a new route could take time. TransCanada will work with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and HDR of Omaha to conduct an environmental impact study of the proposed new route, a process that could take six to nine months. A change in the state law approved this past session, requires TransCanada to pay the $2 million cost of the new study.
TransCanada continues to work with the state even as it re-applies for a president permit to construct the Keystone XL pipeline from western Canada to refineries along the Gulf Coast in Texas. The pipeline will travel 1,700 miles and cost $7 billion to build.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]