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Keystone XL pipeline: Nebraska’s approval puts Obama in a bind

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TransCanada is set to carry $200 million in third-party liability insurance to cover any cleanup costs, Governor Heineman says in the letter. He also writes that the proposed reroute “avoids many areas of fragile soils in Northern Nebraska” and “avoids a shallow groundwater area ... where the aquifer is thin, wells are shallow, and bedrock is close to the surface.”

The pipeline construction would generate $418 million in economic benefits to the state and about $13 million in property-tax revenues in its first year of operation, Heineman adds.

Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer, released a statement Tuesday that lauded the governor’s approval, saying it moves the process “one step closer to Americans receiving the benefits of Keystone XL – the enhanced energy security it will provide and the thousands of jobs it will create.” The company, Mr. Girling also writes, added 57 special conditions to ensure the safety of the pipeline, including additional data sensors, remote-controlled shut-off valves, inspections, and maintenance.

The backing of Nebraska’s governor is seen as putting Obama in a tougher bind over a decision expected to receive heavy criticism either way. Environmental opponents view the pipeline as dangerous because it would carry oil extracted from Canada’s region of oil sands, which produce up to 30 percent more greenhouse gases than conventional crude oil. There are also worries about potential spills in the nation’s most sensitive agricultural terrain.

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