By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog
LINCOLN — TransCanada Corp. will revise the route it submitted in April through Nebraska for the Keystone XL pipeline.
TransCanada said in a press release it has submitted an environmental report to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality for the alternative route. DEQ is overseeing the rerouting of the pipeline through Nebraska. The company revised the route based on feedback from the public and DEQ and attempts to minimize disturbance of land and “sensitive resources” in Nebraska, according to Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer.
About 670 Nebraskans took part in open house discussions and hundreds of additional comments were submitted to the DEQ.
The new route minimizes impact on areas in northern Nebraska that are not strictly defined by the state as Sandhills, but have sand dunes and sandy erodable soils with a thin organic layer of topsoil. The route also moves the pipe west of the town of Clarks so it doesn’t cross an area uphill of the city’s wellhead, and moves the pipe west of the city of Western to avoid its wellhead protection area.
The report is available on the DEQ website and was submitted to the U.S. Department of State in connection with an application for a Presidential Permit for Keystone XL.
“TransCanada shares the goal of protecting key water and natural resources with Nebraskans,” Girling said in the release. “The identified route, along with our commitment to implement additional safety requirements above and beyond those required for any other pipeline, ensures the protection of Nebraska’s resources.”
DEQ Director Mike Linder said at first glance, TransCanada’s route revisions appear to respond to some of the concerns raised by his department and Nebraskans, “but a full evaluation will now begin.”
Bold Nebraska, which opposes the pipeline project and has organized the opposition in Nebraska, still has doubts about the new route.
“The new route still risks our land, water and property rights,” Bold Nebraska head Jane Kleeb said in a press statement. “The new route still crosses high water tables, sandy soil — which leads to higher vulnerability of contamination — and still crosses the Ogallala Aquifer, the lifeblood of Nebraska’s economy.”
She said TransCanada moves away from communities that oppose the pipeline, so Nebraskans should “keep speaking out until they are out of our state altogether.”
The route covers approximately 210 miles of the Keystone XL route in Nebraska and increases the length of the pipeline in the state by 20 miles to a new total length of approximately 275 miles
Work on the Nebraska re-route began in late 2011. TransCanada will provide an environmental report to the State Department on Sept. 7 as part of its review of the company’s federal permit application.
TransCanada recently began work on the $2.3 billion Gulf Coast Project from Cushing, Okla., to the U.S. gulf coast refining complex.
Reported by Deena Winter, firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Deena on Twitter at @DeenaNEWatchdog.
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