August 29, 2014

Top TransCanada official optimistic Keystone will be approved next year (AUDIO)

A top TransCanada official expresses optimism the Keystone XL oil pipeline will win approval early next year.

TransCanada President of Energy and Oil Pipelines, Alex Pourbaix, said in an interview with Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN’s Drive Time Lincoln that TransCanada made changes to the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline after hearing concerns from Nebraskans as well as the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality. Pourbaix said the company considered the first alternative route it submitted in April as safe.

“At the same time, making these modifications we’re being responsive to the concerns of Nebraskans,” Pourbaix told DTL host Kevin Thomas. “It doesn’t significantly add to the time or the cost so we were happy to take those concerns into account in coming out with a re-route.”

The company refined the proposal to keep it away from the environmentally fragile Sand Hills. It also moves away from two well head protection areas. Keystone XL is $7 billion dollar, 1,700 mile project to take crude oil form the tar sands of western Canada to oil refineries along the Gulf Coast in Texas.

Some critics have suggested TransCanada should have proposed building Keystone XL along the original Keystone pipeline path, now operating in eastern Nebraska. Pourbaix said the State Department would not have agreed to that proposal, because it would have had to cover more ground. The State Department has jurisdiction over the pipeline, because it crosses the border to come into the United States.

Pourbaix, stated resolving the route through Nebraska is the last piece of the puzzle that needs to be fitted in place to secure the State Department’s approval and, ultimately, a presidential permit to enter the U.S.

“We’re very, very confident that the energy independence benefits of Keystone and the job and economic benefits of Keystone are going to carry the day when we get the final decision from the president,” according to Pourbaix.

TransCanada has begun construction of the southern part of the pipeline, from Cushing, Oklahoma to the oil refineries in Texas.

The State Department has indicated it will recommend approval of the presidential permit sometime in the first quarter of next year.

“That timeframe works for us,” Pourbaix said. “So, we’ll be ready and raring to go when we get that decision.”

Pourbaix, said he fully expects the refine alternative route to receive approval from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.

“It will be up to Gov. Heineman at the end of the day to approve the route and then that recommendation by the governor will just be added to the work that is going on at the State Department and the State Department is collaborating and working very closely with the NDEQ on this process,” Pourbaix said.

A lawsuit filed by four landowners against the Keystone XL pipeline had its day in court today in Lincoln. A judge is considering a request by the state to dismiss the case.

Go to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality’s Nebraska’s Keystone XL Pipeline Evaluation website.

AUDIO: Kevin Thomas interviews TransCanada President of Energy Alex Pourbaix [12:30]