Coming just days after the U.S. State department announced it would delay its final decision on the controversial pipeline due to environmental concerns, TransCanada agrees to modify its plans.
LINCOLN - Two company official announced Monday night that TransCanada would agree to alter the planned route of its Keystone Xl pipeline in an attempt avoid certain environmentally sensitive areas of Nebraska in hopes to somewhat tamper down the increasing opposition to the project and alleviate concerns expressed by both the State Department and many Nebraskan officials and citizens alike.
Speaking at a news conference after a special session of the Nebraska State Legislature, TransCanada officials said the company would agree to the new route after previously claiming that any alterations to its plans just wouldn't be possible.
TransCanada's president for energy and oil pipelines Alex Pourbaix said in a statement Monday, "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." Although, Pourbaix said, "Nebraska will play a key role in deciding it."
Matt Boever, spokesman for State Senator Mike Flood told the press "There had been discussions about this over the last couple of days," said Boever. "Moving it out of that Sand Hills region is important."
Monday night's compromise by TransCanada comes only days after the State department's announcement that it would delay its final decision on the $7 billion proposed pipeline until it had time to consider alternative routes through the State of Nebraska."
In a written statement, spokesman for the State Department Mark Toner said, "Any new route would require a supplemental environmental impact statement."
Toner adds, "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."
With the 2012 presidential election looming, the ongoing pipeline controversy could prove to be a thorn in the side of President Obama's re-election bid and may part of the reason for the delay.
In an article published Friday, Digital Journal's Andrew Reeves writes that "making a potentially polarizing decision when he can easily delay must have struck many in his administration as a needless risk."
Reeves also writes that "Obama's decision will play well with his base of Democratic supporters," although points out that the reason for the delay may also be "based on aggressive opposition in Republican Nebraska."