Governor Heineman rejects claims made by an assistant United States Secretary of State that states have the power to decide the route of pipelines.
Assistant Secretary of State Kerri-Ann Jones has told the Lincoln Journal Star that the State Department only has the authority to grant a permit to TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, not the pipeline’s route.
“This is the Obama Administration, again, not taking responsibility for their actions, trying to shift the blame to someone else,” Heineman replied when asked about the comment during a news conference at the Capitol.
The route has become the crucial issue in public hearings being held by the State Department prior to deciding whether to grant a permit. TransCanada proposes building the pipeline through the Sand Hills and the Ogallala Aquifer, which has been criticized as needlessly risking a fragile environment and a major source of drinking water.
“Are they really suggesting that the state of Nebraska can preempt the president of the United States when he says it’s in the national interest?” Heineman asked. “Are they suggesting that we can ignore the federal interstate commerce clause, that state law can circumvent federal law? Now, if we can, please send that to me, I’ll be glad to take full responsibility.”
The governor insists the state has very limited power to dictate the route of the Keystone XL pipeline.
“Some are playing some political games here, suggesting that state law can circumvent federal law,” according to Heineman. “I wished they’d send that to me in writing, where it says that in the Constitution and how we can enact that authority.”
The State Department says it has not made a decision on the pending presidential permit application filed by TransCanada. State Department officials listened to about eight hours of impassioned testimony at the Pershing Center in Lincoln Tuesday. It holds a second public hearing in Nebraska on Thursday, at West Holt High School in Atkinson, which is located in the Sand Hills. That public hearing begins at 4:30pm.
“The most important decision that’s going to be made is going to be made by the Obama Administration,” Heineman states. “If they deny this permit, I assure you TransCanada’s going to change the route, because they want to build this.”
TransCanada has proposed building a $7 billion oil pipeline from western Canada to Texas. The pipeline would stretch about 1,700 miles and take crude oil made from tar sands in Canada to refineries in the Gulf Coast.
For link to map of Keystone XL pipeline click here.