TransCanada says it will reroute planned pipeline


LINCOLN, Neb. — Canadian pipeline developer TransCanada will shift the route of its planned oil pipeline out of the environmentally sensitive Sandhills area of Nebraska, two company officials announced Monday night.

Speaking at a news conference at the Nebraska Capitol, the officials said TransCanada would agree to the new route, a move the company previously claimed wasn’t possible, as part of an effort to push through the proposed $7 billion project. They expressed confidence the project would ultimately be approved.

Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada’s president for energy and oil pipelines, said rerouting the Keystone XL line would likely require 30 to 40 additional miles of pipe and an additional pumping station. The exact route has not yet been determined, but Pourbaix said Nebraska will play a key role in deciding it.

The announcement follows the federal government’s decision last week to delay a decision on a federal permit for the project until it studies new potential routes that avoid the Sandhills area and the Ogallala aquifer as the proposed pipeline carries crude oil from Canada to Texas Gulf Coast refineries.

Debate over the pipeline has drawn international attention focused largely on Nebraska, because the pipeline would cross the Sandhills — an expanse of grass-strewn, loose-soil hills — and part of the Ogallala aquifer, which supplies water to Nebraska and parts of seven other states.

Company officials had claimed that moving the route was impossible because of a U.S. State Department study which found the Sandhills route would leave the smallest environmental footprint.

Pourbaix said he was confident a new route would also avoid the parts of the aquifer that sit closes to the surface, which was a major concern cited by environmentalists and the region’s landowners. He said moving it out of the Sandhills region would likely ease many of the concerns posed by landowners.

“We do remain confident that we could have built a safe pipeline through the original route that was approved by the State Department” in an environmental impact statement released earlier this year, Pourbaix said. “At the same time, it has always been a priority of TransCanada to listen to our stakeholders.”

He added: “We’re confident that collaborating with the state of Nebraska will make this process much easier.”

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said any new route would require a supplemental environmental impact statement that likely would take more than a year to complete.

“Based on the total mileage of potential alternative routes that would need to be reviewed, we anticipate the evaluation could conclude as early as first quarter of 2013,” Toner said in a written statement.

Delaying the decision on the pipeline went over badly in Canada, where it was seen as a signal that the country must diversify its oil exports away from the United States and toward Asia.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he made it clear in a weekend meeting with President Barack Obama that the nation will step up its efforts to sell oil to Asia since the decision was delayed, and would keep pushing the U.S. to approve the project.

“This highlights why Canada must increase its efforts to ensure it can supply its energy outside the U.S. and into Asia in particular,” Harper said.

Harper said he emphasized the pipeline would mean economic growth on both sides of the border.

Business and labor groups who support the project say the environmental criticism is overblown, and based more on opposition to oil than the project itself. They say the project will create construction jobs, although the exact number is disputed.

Environmentalists and some Nebraska landowners fear the pipeline would disrupt the region’s loose soil for decades, harm wildlife, and contaminate the aquifer.

The speaker of Nebraska’s legislature, Mike Flood, said the state will conduct an environmental assessment of its own at state expense to determine a route that avoids the Sandhills area and other ecologically sensitive areas. The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality will oversee the process, with collaboration from the U.S. State Department.

Noah Greenwald, a spokesman for the Center of Biological Diversity, said his group remains opposed to the pipeline and still believes it poses an environmental threat. The center is one of three environmental groups that have sued the U.S. State Department, seeking a judge’s order to block the project.

“Even with the reroute, we still feel like we can push forward,” he said. “We’re going to keep up the public pressure on the administration as this moves forward.”

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman had called a special legislative session to seek a legal and constitutional solution to the pipeline debate. But the session’s stated goal — to enact oil pipeline legislation — has lacked a clear consensus about what, if anything, state officials ought to do.

Nebraska State Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm, an outspoken pipeline critic, was pleased with Monday’s announcement.

“It’s good for the people of Nebraska. It’s good for TransCanada,” he said.

Associated Press

29 Responses

  1. olddispatcher says:

    Some folks I know in the Rosebud area did not like the TTC because it was going to cut up property and not allow you to go from one part of your property to the other without using the toll road.

    There were a lot of valid concerns with the TTC, the Spanish Company being one of the big ones, but it seemed that no matter what your objection was it was just brushed off.

    The biggest problem I have with toll roads is that there seems to be no economic development along them. If customers cannot get to you then all the traffic count in the world is not going to help your business. One exception to this might be Hwy 161, or whatever it is called these days, from Irving to McKinney, but it is still too early to tell if this is going to work out or not.

  2. CB says:

    Gov. Perry’s Trans Texas Corridor was going to condemn millions of acres and cover them up with two or three rail lines and 8 traffic lanes (all tolled). Pipelines are buried and most people wouldn’t even know they are there if you don’t know what to look for.

    What really pissed Texans off was that Perry was going to essentially “give” Cintra, a Spanish company, full control of the construction and tolling and maintenance of the Corridor. Perry would of course line his pockets in the deal. Additionally, once the Corridor was built it would force people to drive on it and pay the tolls, because other existing roads that go north and south would be cut up so thru traffic would not be possible. Real Texans like their roads and freedom to go from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ on one road and take another on the way back. The Corridor would have ended that option.

    @Mark from Louisana
    Maybe it’s to time to let Nebraska freeze in the dark too.

  3. olddispatcher says:

    We have been importing gasoline for a long time. At one time China was refining crude into almost nothing but Diesel and Gasoline was just a byproduct. This gasoline was exported to the US where it was received in LA, California, and then blended into a useable product.

    But that gasoline was just one step above natural gasoline. Perhaps you were speaking of road ready 87 octane gasoline?

  4. BayouCrier says:

    If selling the oil to the USA is such a big problem sell it to the Chinese. Lay the pipeline to Kitimat and load the ships there.
    In 5 years the USA will be importing gasoline anyway.

  5. RonnyG says:

    @mark: Tell that to Randy Thompson, a Nebraska sandhills rancher in the forefront of opposition to routing the pipeline through the sandhills. And please, somebody, tell me why it was ok for Texas farmers and ranchers to oppose Gov Perry’s pipeline/super highway project yet somehow it’s not ok for farmers and ranchers in other states to do the same.

  6. ntangle says:

    Abu II – The CBS story was about congressmen trading stock on inside info & in some cases profiting from land deals, like Dennis Hastert did. There was no mention of the p/l or beneficiaries thereof.

    When p/l’s are laid, all landowners (politicians or otherwise) get paid (not quite a “killing”) for the necessary ROW, even if it’s done via eminent domain. Which 9 congressmen will make a killing? How, and according to whom?

  7. mark says:

    Environmentalists and some Nebraska landowners fear the pipeline would disrupt the region’s loose soil for decades, harm wildlife, and contaminate the aquifer.

    You can bet that none of the landowners that the pipeline would have gone through are part of the protest. The Environmentalists and others like to tell others what they can and cannot do with their supposedly owned property.

  8. redpill_bluepill09 says:

    SNL could not have written goofier, more illogical and incorrect comments on this article if they tried….. and tried….and tried.

    Almost all of the posted facts, including project cost and job numbers, are wrong.
    Event cause and effect fares just as bad if not worse.

    As has been suggested many of yall would benefit from some old fashioned R/L research
    ignoring what the pols and talking heads are trying to program yall to believe….

  9. Mike H. says:

    Now that they have a moment, will they go & screen the pipe for swelling under pressure issues, since the pipe is supposed to already have already been bought from India? Some Indian steel makers have had quality issues, PHMSA has sent out warning about it.

  10. olddispatcher says:

    I love this jobs angle. I have heard anywhere from between 20,000 to 1,000,000 jobs will be created.

    The last project I am aware of that was this size employed about 1,200 people tops, and after it was finished it took about 300 people to run it. That was Controllers, schedulers, gaugers, pipeliners, office staff and tech support.

    Now that the Sand Hills have been taken out of the route I don’t see any reason to put this off, but if anyone is expecting this line to create thousands of jobs……

    However, this would be a good time to be a welder!

  11. Abu Janel Binharfa Gonall Binwadi Blifnart II says:

    We were first told that the pipeline would help secure domestic supplies so that we wouldn’t have to buy oil from overseas … but now we are making it easier for our oil in the US and Canada to go overseas.

    So now we are being told it will help with jobs and not hurt the environment. Okay, but what about the requests to operate this and the other pipelines above the approved pipeline pressures? That doesn’t sound very safe.

    Which leaves us with jobs. Take a look at where the workers are coming from and you will find out that they won’t be local. Not most of them by a long shot. So that myth goes out the window as well.

    Don’t forget that Congress trades on inside information – legally. CBS just did a story on it. Guess who stands to make a killing from the land being sold? Yup, 9 members of Congress will make a killing.

    I don’t care if it gets built are not. But you folks really need to do your homework.

  12. strengthof10 says:



  13. chuck says:

    Dang it. Guess it is time to dust off the my old 45 record of ‘Freeze A Yankee’. I don’t know. Is a pipeline leak as bad as a supertanker breaking up?

  14. SL says:

    “It’s not surprising that the Canadians don’t want to deal with the idiot we have in the White House. They wanted to spend $7 Billion dollars in our country and hire our workers, a win win situation.”

    We’ve got to get this disaster out of the White House next year.

  15. Mike says:

    Good work obama. Just throw away thousands of private sector jobs and a chance to make us less dependent on oil from dictators and tyrants.

    And you ignorant libs who think you’re so smart you are fooling yourselves. A pipeline is the safest way to transport oil.

    This pipeline may provide up to a million barrels of oil a day direct to the refineries here in TEXAS. Creating jobs and tax revenue. Not the mention the 5 billion+ dollars in property taxes to the states the pipeline would cross.

    You ecofasist environmentalists should stick to what you know. Expensive bad coffee and tofu.

  16. Jackalope says:

    Let me get this straight: Congress needed to pass Obama’s $450 billion jobs bill immediately, yet he waits over a year to put ten of thousands to work. Hmmm. I guess it was all about spending the money after all and not about jobs.

  17. Jackalope says:

    The picture on the main page sums up the greenies’ ignorance: the only polar bear within 1,000 miles of Keystone or the oil sands is in a zoo.

    The government drives up gas, grocery and automobile prices with ethanol mandates and blames “big oil”. Greenies point to Brazil as an ideal ethanol example but ignore the rainforest destruction to grow the needed sources. Coal and gas fired power plants are shut down thanks to the EPA, so we’re stuck with rolling blackouts because wind farms cannot replace what’s been closed.

  18. PID says:

    another guy,
    Actually we’re a bit more realistic. Much of the protest is about the oil extraction anyway. Regardless, of the risks (hyped or not) that part of the project will happen. Keystone XL is only about where the oil will go. As for solutions to our energy needs, there is no reason that hydrocarbons can’t be part of the solution (in fact I expect that there is no solution that does not include them at least in the near and mid term). If you feel so strongly, I’m curious how long you can go hydrocarbon free.

  19. olddispatcher says:

    OOoowwww……. The Scary Man is going to sell oil to the highest bidder.

    Knock yourself out, friend. When, and if, a pipeline ever gets built that sends Canada’s oil to anywhere they will fill it and sell to whomever is at the other end.

    Anyone who thinks Canada will take a loss just to sell oil to the US is an idiot. Nations don’t have friends; they have interests, and it is in Canada’s interests to get the best price for this oil that they can.

    But if those here want to blame someone then blame the Republicans in Nebraska. They are the ones that killed this deal and opened the way up for a reroute.

    Educate yourself on this matter if it is important to you.

  20. g4george says:

    Most likely Vancouver hasn’t the capacity to refine it.

  21. Mark from Louisiana says:

    It’s not surprising that the Canadians don’t want to deal with the idiot we have in the White House. They wanted to spend $7 Billion dollars in our country and hire our workers, a win win situation.
    Texas and Louisiana should wait until the coldest week of this winter and shut down all pipelines heading to the Washington DC area for a month for safety inspections.

    Let them freeze in the dark.

  22. agnerd says:

    I guess Obama won’t rest until we’re in Greece’s shoes. We should all probably start learning Chinese.

  23. another guy says:

    Do you conservatives reflexively press hands to ears and avert eyes to anything that deviates from your party line? Simple minds lend well to the ignorance the oil industry requires to exploit what they can. Notwithstanding the worthy arguments against the construction of the XL extension to the Gulf Coast, the environmental studies make clear (yes, even for republicans to comprehend) that the risks are high with the communities, the wildlife, and the atmosphere all being subject to them while the rewards flow mostly to the financial statements of the energy companies. You want to be part of the solution to our energy needs? Try helping to promote alternatives to fossil fuels for a change. But I imagine your willful obedience to the powers that be get in the way.

  24. Leenorthstar says:

    This just proves that Greenies and Obama ARE anti US and anti employment. There was an opportunity here to employ people and help keep oil products somewhat low instead of horrendous subsidies to alternative energy that cannot stand on their own. We know what Obama will do now if re-elected…nothing. I, for one, cannot stand Greenies, as they are focused on anti-jobs, anti growth, and place their worship of the earth above the needs of our country. They should all move to Europe and worship at the alter of the elitist Europeans whom are going bankrupt.

  25. Signal2Noise says:

    “A guy”, that’s quite a unique assessment as this (also imported crude) was never “a given” to US production and amounts to fractions of percentages of the US crude refining. The delay of the several thousand construction jobs is unfortunate, but we were and are not entitled to the tar sands crude in any way.

  26. 2rottendogs says:

    Again, with his royal highness voting present, we will lose the jobs that were already in place clearing the land, those 20,000 long term jobs and the 200,000 spin off jobs that would have come with this project. Somewhere between those ears he forgets that he works for us…. the best economic plan for this country is to give the community organizer a pink slip come next November.

  27. Brown says:

    November 14, 2011, 1:49 PM
    I’ve wondered why the Canadians look to pipe product from their Alberta oil sands to the gulf when a pipeline to the refineries in Vancouver, the next province over, would be easier, cheaper and easier access (shipping) to the growing Asian market and would impact/displace less people. Could it be they don’t want it refined in-country?.

    Yeah, cause that makes sense. Construct a pipeline into another province, deal with the dozens of Native American tribes there, to get it to port to make it possible for costly shipping to Asia. I would certainly do that instead of building into an existing pipeline system that feeds to the largest consuming market in the world.

  28. A guy says:

    As everyone who wasn’t an idiot predicted would happen.

    Thank you “greens”. You are complete and utter traitors to the environmetalist cause. No wonder the founder of Greenpeace no longer wants anything to do with the organization.

    With all of your protests and efforts, you have shunted away the solution with lowest energy loss, lowest pollution, and lowest risk.

    Every fish that gets killed when one of those tankers sinks, every child in China who is harmed by the excessive pollution from their unregulated power plant, and every child in America that goes hungry becuase of the lost income is on your head.

    I hope you’re happy.

  29. Signal2Noise says:

    I’ve wondered why the Canadians look to pipe product from their Alberta oil sands to the gulf when a pipeline to the refineries in Vancouver, the next province over, would be easier, cheaper and easier access (shipping) to the growing Asian market and would impact/displace less people. Could it be they don’t want it refined in-country?.