Lincoln, NB – Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman approved a revised route for the Keystone XL oil pipeline on Tuesday. The new route avoids the Sandhills region, an environmentally sensitive area in Nebraska.
Heineman sent a letter for final approval on the pipeline to President Obama. The sent the letter the day after Obama’s inauguration, where he made the pledge to take on climate change during his second term. Opponents say that the crude oil extraction and consupmption will worsen global warming as well as contaminate the Ogallala aquifer, a massive groundwater supply. The previous route was rejected by President Obama because construction of the pipeline could have threatened Nebraska’s Sand Hills region and a spill could contaminate the Ogalla aquifer.
Govenor Heineman said in his letter to President Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton that Nebraska has found a new route that would avoid sensitive lands and aquifers. He also said the pipeline’s operator TransCanda, has assured state environmental official the chance of a spill would be minimized and TransCanda would assume all responsibility of a cleanup if a spill occurred.
Because the Keystone pipeline crosses an international border, the State Department must review the 1,7800 mile pipeline. The pipeline brings heavy crude oil from Tar Sand formations in Alberta, Canada to refineries on the gulf coast.
The American Petroleum Institute said Nebraska removed a critical hurdle to completing the pipeline according to The New York Times. Marty Durbin, the oil lobby’s executive vice president said:
“With the approval from Nebraska in hand, the president can be confident that the remaining environmental concerns have been addressed. We hope President Obama will finally greenlight KXL as soon as possible and get more Americans back to work.”
However, Jane Kleeb, director of Bold Nebraska, a citizens’ advocacy group that opposes the pipeline said:
“On the one hand, it’s shocking the governor would turn his back so clearly on the Ogallala Aquifer and property rights in our state. However, given what the president said yesterday about climate change, what’s clear is that the governor has made a very big political decision,” according to The New York Times.
Kleebs added that if the president was serious about climate change than he had no choice but to reeject it.
The Huffington Post reports, TransCanda and the workers’ union says the project is safe and will create thousands of jobs. Heineman said the project would give Nebraska 418 million dollars in economic benefits and 16.5 million dollars in taxes from the pipeline construction materials.