* Route would avoid environmentally sensitive areas
* Nebraska to vote on deal on Tuesday
* Won't change timeline for federal review-State Dept
By Michael Avok
LINCOLN, Neb, Nov 14 Nebraska and TransCanada
Corp agreed on Monday to find a new route for the
stalled Keystone XL pipeline that would steer clear of
environmentally sensitive lands in the state.
Under pressure from green groups, the U.S. State Department
last week 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 the
route, concerns about spills and carbon emissions from
production of oil sands crude.
In the deal with Nebraska, the state would pay for the new
studies to find a route that would avoid the Sandhills region
and the Ogallala aquifer, which provides water for millions in
"I believe we will put the routing issue completely behind
us," said Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada's president of Energy and
Oil Pipelines. "We have heard and we have listened to the
people of the Sandhills."
The agreement will not change the timeline for a federal
review, said a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, which
has final approval for the project because it crosses an
"Nothing has changed in the process since last Thursday's
announcement as any new proposed routes will be subject to the
thorough, rigorous and transparent review process we have
undertaken throughout," said Mark Toner, deputy spokesman for
"Given the process, we cannot provide a specific end-date,
other than to say that 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.
That means the Obama Administration will likely not have to
deal with the politically charged issue until after the 2012
Nebraska State legislators will vote on the deal on
Tuesday, Mike Flood, the legislature's speaker said.
"TransCanada is willing to consider a route that sites the
pipeline out of the Sand Hills," said Flood.
"This is our land. These are our people. We will pay for
this. It's the right thing to do."
In Washington to lobby for Keystone, Alberta Premier Alison
Redford said the announcement was "good news."
"It's something I can be more optimistic about now than I
could have been this morning," said Redford, emerging from a
meeting with House Speaker John Boehner.
But the Republican chairman of the House Energy and
Commerce committee, who was part of the meeting in Boehner's
office, was less optimistic the deal could lead to a quicker
"If they look at rerouting, that takes a long time,"
committee chairman Fred Upton said.