NEW YORK The Nebraska
Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) has issued its final
evaluation of a proposed rerouting of TransCanada Corp.s
Keystone XL pipeline, which is intended to transport oil from
Alberta to the Gulf Coast.
The new route would avoid the
states environmentally sensitive Sandhills region, which
previously had been a point of contention.
"The reroute ensures Keystone XL
will have minimal environmental impact by avoiding the area
defined as the Nebraska Sandhills, crossing fewer miles of
threatened- and endangered-species habitat and considerably
fewer miles of erodible soils," Calgary, Alberta-based
The new route instead would
cross the High Plains Aquifer in Nebraska east of the
Sandhills. Any impact on aquifers should be contained to local
areas, according to the NDEQ report, and Keystone would be
responsible for all cleanup.
The report also noted that the
reroute would avoid fragile soils in northern Nebraska and
shallow groundwater areas in the west, and said that any
affected agricultural operations would be able to resume
activities the season after construction ended.
TransCanada said last summer
that it would begin construction on the southern portion of its
planned crude oil pipeline, which will run 485 miles from
Cushing, Okla., to Nederland, Texas, while its northern portion
awaits a presidential permit, which is necessary to build the
portion of the XL that crosses the U.S.-Canada border (
amm.com, Aug. 17). The XL project has faced
numerous setbacks and delays, including the denial early last
year of a presidential permit (
amm.com, Jan. 18).
If approved, construction of the
pipeline would result in $418.1 million in economic benefits to
the state and would support some 4,560 new or existing jobs,
the NDEQ said. The project also would generate $16.5 million in
taxes from pipeline construction materials and yield some $13
million in local property tax revenues in its first full year
Gov. Dave Heineman has 30 days
to review the report and make a decision about the proposed