TransCanada agrees to reroute Keystone XL around sensitive areas

Energy Environment Politics

TransCanada Corporation announced Monday that it will reroute the controversial bitumen pipeline around environmentally sensitive areas in Nebraska.

At a news conference, in the state capital, Lincoln and in a news release, posted on its website, the company said that it supports proposed Nebraska state legislation that would ensure a pipeline route will be developed in Nebraska that avoids the environmentally sensitive Sandhills region.

Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada president for Energy and Oil Pipelines said, “”I am pleased to tell you that the positive conversations we have had with Nebraska leaders have resulted in legislation that respects the concerns of Nebraskans and supports the development of the Keystone XL pipeline…I can confirm the route will be changed and Nebraskans will play an important role in determining the final route.”

The company says it will work with the US State Department and Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality will conduct an environmental assessment to define the best location for Keystone XL in Nebraska. “We will cooperate with these agencies and provide them with the information they need to complete a thorough review that addresses concerns regarding the Sandhills region.”

TransCanada said.

The decision comes just four days after last Thursday’s decision by the State Department to postpone consideration of the pipeline project to allow the agency to look at alternative routes.

The 2013 decision date would also avoid the US presidential election cycle which is beginning to ramp up at this time.

In the news release,

TransCanada emphasized the safety measures it is taking on the project.

Construction of the pipeline in Nebraska would consist of five or six new pump stations and over 275 miles of new pipeline. The project is expected to employ over 2,200 construction workers in the state.

Keystone XL will be safe, built with high strength steel and with the highest safety standards of any pipeline in North America. 21,000 sensors monitor the length of the pipeline by satellite 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with data refreshed every five seconds. If there is a problem, automatic shut-off valves can be activated in minutes – shutting off the flow of oil.

“The U.S. Department of State announced last Thursday that further assessment of alternative routes for Keystone XL was needed in Nebraska to move forward with the National Interest Determination. Today’s proposed legislation is a critical step in making this happen,” Pourbaix added. “The safe and reliable operation of our pipelines and all of our infrastructure has been TransCanada’s priority for 60 years. This commitment will continue to guide us toward a positive outcome in Nebraska.”

The pipeline would carry bitumen from the Alberta bitumen sands to refineries in Texas.