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.”
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."
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.|
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.
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.