Shale Daily / NGI All News Access

Keystone XL Opponents Blast Nebraska Governor

A TransCanada Corp. official said this week that despite opposition to the Keystone XL oil pipeline, the company is moving forward with plans to refile its application to carry supplies from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

Opponents of TransCanada's proposed pipeline on Tuesday opened an Internet-based campaign against Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, accusing him of flip-flopping on whether the pipeline could traverse his state, first agreeing with the Obama administration's decision to deny an import permit and then changing his mind.

At the center of the dispute is the Ogallala Aquifer in Nebraska Sandhills, a major freshwater resource for 20% of the nation's irrigated farmland. Heineman earlier had publicly opposed an pipeline route through the aquifer and said further environmental review was needed. Subsequently, he expressed his support for the pipeline.

A TransCanada spokesman verified that the company is moving ahead with plans to refile the Keystone XL proposal with U.S. government officials after it is determined how much of the environmental review of the proposed $7 billion, 1,700-mile project can be reused as part of a new application.

On a conference call Tuesday, Ken Winston, an official with the Nebraska Sierra Club, said state laws passed in a legislative session last November to address the Keystone project aren't relevant any longer, given the U.S. State Department's rejection of the project (see Shale Daily, Jan. 19). Opponents also indicated that TransCanada would sue the state over Keystone.

"These guys are willing to say anything," the TransCanada spokesman said. "We've never said we were considering suing the state; we worked with them as closely and collaboratively as possible, and we were able to reach an agreement" regarding the Sandhills route.

Calling the opponents "professional activists" the spokesman alleged that opposition groups keep bringing up old issues that have no bearing on the project. "It is interesting that they are attacking the governor for 'flip-flopping' when he has said all along he favored the pipeline, it was just an issue centered around the route."

As to whether TransCanada may bypass Nebraska, "nothing could be further from the truth," said the spokesman, who reiterated that Nebraska has state legislation now in place to handle the process.

"With the exception of the one small section of pipeline route going around the Sandhills, the route won't change, so we will be actively involved with the state -- not just with the legislature or public service commission or the environmental department. We are going to be involved closely with Nebraskans because we are going to have to negotiate new easements where the realigned route will go.

"Anything to the contrary is just another one of those tall tales that the [opposition] likes to tell. Earlier, they were just opposed to the route, now it is clear they are opposed to any pipeline. They change their stories every week."

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