Just a little over two weeks after indicating they would reroute the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline through Nebraska to avoid key environmentally sensitive areas, TransCanada submitted the formal application for the revised route to the State Department Friday.
"The State Department has received a new application from TransCanada Corp. for a proposed pipeline that would run from the Canadian border to connect to an existing pipeline in Steele City, Nebraska," a State Department media note confirmed Friday.
TransCanada indicated on April 18 they would revise the pipeline's route to avoid Nebraska's underground Ogallala Aquifer, which provides most of the state with its drinking water. Republican Governor Dave Heineman and other local politicians joined with environmentalists to express concerns over the pipeline and the possibility of oil seepage into the aquifer.
TransCanada states the new route, announced Friday, avoids these sensitive areas. But environmentalists continue to doubt the efficacy of the new route, which still originates in the Tar Sands in Canada and passes through over 1,700 miles of American soil.
"The new route TransCanada has identified through Nebraska still crosses the sensitive Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer, the source of drinking water for 2 million people and supporter of $20 billion in agriculture in the Midwest," Friends of the Earth Federal Dirty Fuels Campaigner Kim Huynh told RTTNews in April when the new route was proposed.
Lawmakers and others in favor of the pipeline say it will bring much needed employment to the area and will also help ease our dependence on foreign oil.
"The multi-billion dollar Keystone XL pipeline project will reduce the United States' dependence on foreign oil and support job growth by putting thousands of Americans to work," TransCanada President and CEO Russ Girling said in a press release Friday.
Governor Heineman has also reversed his position on the pipeline, signing into law a bill allowing for reexamination of a Keystone route through his state.
"Nebraska will move forward on the review process of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and any future pipelines that will create jobs and reduce U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil," Heineman said in a press release in mid-April.
Opponents say local job creation will be short-lived, lasting only as long as the pipeline takes to build. This claim was substantiated in Cornell's Global Labor Institute study released in September 2011 and updated in January.
"The report concludes that the job estimates put forward by TransCanada are unsubstantiated and the project will not only create fewer jobs than industry states, but that the project could actually kill more jobs than it creates," a Cornell press released stated.
"It's downright shameful that either side of the aisle would play politics with a project that has such potential to wreak havoc on the land, water, local economies, and health of communities in the path of this pipeline," Huynh added.
State Department approval is required of the project because it passes over the U.S.-Canadian border. TransCanada remains optimistic on the pipeline's construction, expecting to begin construction in the first quarter of 2013, with completion slated for late 2014 or early 2015.
The State Department will now contract a third party to review "the existing Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) from the prior Keystone XL pipeline review process" as well as identify and assist with new analysis.
by RTT Staff Writer
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