TransCanada moves pipeline route through Nebraska

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September 5th, 2012

Lincoln, NE – Pipeline company TransCanada has proposed more changes to the route of its proposed Keystone XL pipeline through Nebraska. But critics say the route is still risky.

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TransCanada’s latest proposal is similar to the one it made in April. But it also contains changes in response to comments from the state Department of Environmental Quality and the public. Company spokesman Grady Semmens said TransCanada is responding to feedback it’s gotten. “We‘ve certainly used that to come up with this route in Nebraska,” Semmens said, “that essentially does as much as possible to minimize its environmental impact, avoid areas outside of the official Sandhills area, but that are still similar in terms of their soil conditions and that sort of thing…as well as trying to avoid some of the water body issues.”

The company says it would minimize the impact on areas of sandy and thin soil in northern Nebraska by jogging into Boyd County. That county was the scene of bitter environmental protests over a proposed nuclear waste site in the 1980s. The new proposal also changes the route near the towns of Western and Clarks, Nebraska, to avoid water wells.

The original Keystone pipeline route cut directly through the Nebraska Sandhills. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia)

Jane Kleeb of the opposition group BOLD Nebraska said the new proposal contains some positive elements. But she still opposes the pipeline. “The new route that TransCanada has proposed is still risky,” Kleeb said. “It still crosses really vulnerable areas of our state that have sandy soil, which means it’s more prone to risks, to contamination. And it still crosses the Ogallala aquifer something that Governor Heineman, as well as lots of citizens and landowners, know that we want the pipeline to avoid.”

Kleeb says it would be better not to build the pipeline at all. “As America, we have to decide if we’re serious when we say we want to be energy independent and we want to get off of foreign oil,” Kleeb said. “And from our perspective, the only thing that we see this pipeline doing is that we are assuming all of the risk and being the middleman for TransCanada to get their export pipeline to the highest bidder on the export market.”

Semmens of TransCanada says the project will benefit American consumers and companies as well. “Keystone XL in particular is designed so that it can pick up oil produced in the U.S. Bakken region as well,” Semmens said. “A lot of the companies that are producing oil in the Canadian oil sands are American and American-based companies like Exxon-Mobil.”

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