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Keystone XL Applicants Try, Try Again

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

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TransCanada Corp. has submitted a new application for its controversial Keystone XL pipeline that will reroute the project’s environmentally sensitive Nebraska leg.

The company announced Friday (May 4) that it had submitted a new Presidential Permit application to the U.S. State Department for the pipeline segment from the U.S./Canada border in Montana to Steele City, NE. The company said it would supplement the application with an alternative route in Nebraska “as soon as that route is selected.”

 The new permit will include an alternative route around Nebraska’s environmentally sensitive Sandhills region.

 Images: US Department of State

The new permit will include an alternative route around Nebraska’s environmentally sensitive Sandhills region.

President Obama endorsed the Southern segment of the stalled $7 billion project in March after rejecting the overall project in January.

The pipeline has become a political football in this election year. Obama says Republicans are trying to ram through the project without due attention to environmental and other concerns; Republicans accuse Obama of bias against the gas and oil industry.

The State Department must approve the cross-border segment of the project.

‘Most Comprehensive Process Ever’

On Friday, TransCanada said it had applied again to the State Department for permission to build the pipeline to carry oil from tar sands in western Canada to a company hub in Steele City, NE, where the line would link up with others operated by TransCanada to carry the oil to the Texas Gulf Coast.

“The multibillion-dollar Keystone XL pipeline project will reduce the United States' dependence on foreign oil and support job growth by putting thousands of Americans to work," said Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and CEO. "Keystone XL will transport U.S. crude oil from the very large Bakken supply basin in Montana and North Dakota, along with Canadian oil, to U.S. refineries.”

Girling said the newest application "builds on more than three years of environmental review already conducted for Keystone XL.”

“It was the most comprehensive process ever for a cross-border pipeline, and that work should allow our cross-border permit to be processed expeditiously and a decision made once a new route in Nebraska is determined."

Alternatives Underway

The new application includes the already reviewed route in Montana and South Dakota. Last month, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman approved a new law that cleared the way for TransCanada to work with Nebraska's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to develop an alternative pipeline route that avoids the state’s environmentally sensitive Sandhills region.

 The 1,700-mile pipeline would carry oil from tar sands in Western Canada to refineries in the Texas Gulf Coast.
The 1,700-mile pipeline would carry oil from tar sands in Western Canada to refineries in the Texas Gulf Coast.

TransCanada has now submitted those alternatives to DEQ, which will oversee the public comment and review process and finalize the route. The route would then be added to the new permit application.

57 Conditions

In addition, TransCanada has already agreed to all 57 special conditions outlined by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for the project. Those conditions include a higher number of remotely controlled shut-off valves, increased pipeline inspections, and pipe that is buried deeper in the ground.

The company notes that the State Department’s Final Environmental Impact Statement for the project, issued in August 2011, said that incorporating the 57 conditions “would result in a project that would have a degree of safety over any other typically constructed domestic oil pipeline system under current code.”

TransCanada expects to begin construction of Keystone XL in the first quarter of 2013, with completion slated for late 2014 or early 2015.


Tagged categories: Construction; EPA; Oil and Gas; Pipeline; Pipelines; President Obama

Comment from Stephen Pinney, (5/9/2012, 4:14 AM)

Lets hope it works this time!

Comment from James Johnson, (5/10/2012, 11:50 AM)

We sure hope it works! This has changed from a pipeline/energy project into a political football in an election year. This proposed pipeline had approval from every state agency and every federal agency and would have been under way before now, with one exception. Since it crossed the line into Canada it required the approval of the State Department. Because of political issues the State Department stopped it cold. If it had approved it then the "greenie" voters (and donors) would have been irate because they do not want anything that will deter from green energy. The portion that obama says he approved is really a portion of the pipeline that did not require his approval anyway. The head of the Dept of Energy stated he wanted the cost of gasoline to be in the $8 to $9 range, so he openly stated he is against anything that would reduce the cost of energy. A sad situation for those of us that have to pay the price at the pump and in fewer jobs for US workers, but it is an election year.

Comment from David Lemke, (5/15/2012, 6:53 PM)

The Canadians are asking, Why would you want us to sell our oil to China instead of to our closest friends? Cause that's what will happen if it does get done. They WILL build there own pipeline to the west coast of Canada, Hello China.

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