Governor Heineman has insisted, again, that the best chance to change the Keystone XL pipeline route is through the federal government, not the state.
Heineman told reporters during a news conference at the Capitol that he has met with top-ranking TransCanada executives, urging them to re-route the oil pipeline away from the Sand Hills and the Ogallala Aquifer.
“I don’t think they’re going to do that, but I told them there is a growing opposition in our state to the route,” Heineman said. “We support the pipeline, but not the route.”
TransCanada, according to Heineman, has indicated that they worry about how changing the route might change the process. Heineman said that TransCanada executives expressed concerns that a change in the route would trigger another environmental impact study, adding to the cost and delaying construction of the $7 billion dollar pipeline.
The TransCanada pipeline, as proposed, would travel 1,700 miles through five states before reaching Texas refineries at the Gulf Coast. It would carry crude oil extracted from tar sands in western Canada. The State Department must grant TransCanada a permit to build the pipeline through the United States. An environmental study conducted for the State Department concluded that the environmental risks of the Keystone XL pipeline would be low and not significant enough to block construction of the pipeline though the Sand Hills of Nebraska.
The study concludes that any pipeline spill would be limited and wouldn’t threaten the entire Northern High Plains Aquifer system.
Heineman, once again, rejected calls for a special legislative session on the pipeline. He said he simply doesn’t think the support is there to approve legislation that would regulate oil pipeline routes.
“The silence is deafening from the legislature, where they stand on this issue,” Heineman stated.
And Heineman added that is why he believes the best bet to keep the pipeline from traveling through the Sand Hills and the Ogallala Aquifer is for the Obama Administration to deny the permit or instruct TransCanada to change the route.