Friday, October 21, 2011

TransCanada says it won’t budge on Keystone XL route

NORFOLK, Neb. - The speaker of the Nebraska Legislature said he will return to the lawbooks to consider the state's options after the developer of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline on Oct. 11 again delivered an emphatic "no" to pleas to reroute the project.

TransCanada Inc. officials said, however, that they would consider additional safety measures for the pipeline, which would carry partially refined crude oil from Canada's oil sands area through the groundwater-rich Sand Hills of Nebraska, on the way to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico.

The comments came after a nearly 4½-hour meeting involving several TransCanada officials and four key state senators in the private law office of State Sen. Mike Flood, speaker of the Legislature.

Nebraska lawmakers are considering holding a special legislative session this fall to force a change in the route. That's a move favored by the state's two U.S. senators, one congressman and Gov. Dave Heineman, as well as a growing number of state senators.

Four of those lawmakers spent more than half of the Oct. 11 meeting urging a route change to alleviate fears that a leak could foul groundwater.

But Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada's president for energy and oil pipelines, said changing the route would require at least a two-year delay for a federal environmental review.

Such a delay, Pourbaix said, would be unacceptable for the Texas oil refineries that would be customers for the 700,000 barrels of diluted tar-sand oil from Canada.

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