Nebraska governor signs bills to reroute Keystone pipeline

LINCOLN, Neb Tue Nov 22, 2011 12:50pm EST

Demonstrators call for the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline during a rally in front of the White House in Washington November 6, 2011.   REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Demonstrators call for the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline during a rally in front of the White House in Washington November 6, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts

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LINCOLN, Neb (Reuters) - Nebraska governor Dave Heineman signed into law on Tuesday bills to reroute the Keystone XL pipeline away from the ecologically sensitive Sandhills region.

One bill puts into law a compromise agreed with Keystone pipeline builder TransCanada to move the route away from the Sandhills and the Ogallala aquifer. The second bill approves state funding for an environmental study for a new pipeline route not to exceed $2 million.

By law, the governor now has the final say in state government on the new route. The U.S. Secretary of State has the final say nationally.

After working with Nebraska lawmakers last week, TransCanada Corp. agreed to find a new route for its pipeline. Earlier this month, the State Department ordered the company to find a new route for the line in a decision that set back the $7 billion, Canada-to-Texas pipeline by more than a year.

The pipeline would deliver 700,000 barrels a day of crude from Alberta's oil sands to Texas refineries. But environmentalists strongly oppose the project, because of concerns about spills and carbon emissions from production of oil sands crude.

Nebraska lawmakers on Tuesday voted unanimously to move the pipeline and to spend money on the environmental study, sending the bills to Heineman's desk.

He was quick to sign them, bringing to a close a 15-day special legislative session called solely to craft pipeline regulations.

"Our work is done," Heineman said. "I want to say thank you to our citizens and our lawmakers."

At issue was the potential environmental impact a pipeline could have on the Sandhills region and the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies water to many cities and ranches and supports the agriculture industry with water for irrigation.

Nebraska forged ahead with pipeline legislation even after the State Department's decision to put off giving TransCanada a permit for the Keystone XL line until 2013.

(Writing and reporting by Michael Avok; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Greg McCune)

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Comments (1)
Changing the pipeline’s route away from the Ogallala aquifer is a sound move. The US needs the 700,000 barrels of oil per day because we have chosen an oil based economy. However, endangering the water that irrigates 30% of America’s food is a bad idea. On the other hand, China is moving forward with an irrigation plan that will allow it to feed several billion people by the 2020′s, and global warming heats the Siberian tundra allowing Russia to feed several billion more. The US, Mexico, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Australia are becoming polluted deserts, so we can look forward to the Communist Party of the People’s Republic of China and the KGB (now called the FSR) in Russia gaining control of the world’s food supply. Perhaps, we should keep the US irrigation system safe for as long as we can. We could enhance it with conservation, reclamation, and desalination.

Nov 22, 2011 12:57pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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