The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) has issued its final evaluation report to Governor Dave Heineman on the proposed re-route of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline.
“This report is the culmination of a rigorous and comprehensive review by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, which included extensive public input gathered during a seven month public comment period. The re-route ensures Keystone XL will have minimal environmental impact by avoiding the area defined as the Nebraska Sandhills, crossing fewer miles of threatened and endangered species habitat and considerably fewer miles of erodible soils. It also moves the route to the down-slope side of two wellhead protection areas,” said Russell Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer. “TransCanada has made it a priority to work with Nebraskans to identify the most appropriate route for this pipeline project and we look forward to hearing from Governor Heineman regarding this report.”
After a preliminary review of the final evaluation report released Jan. 4, TransCanada notes the following important findings by the NDEQ:
- The preferred route avoids the area that is defined as the Nebraska Sandhills. This area was defined by state and other agencies in 2001 – long before a pipeline was considered.
- Construction and operation of the Keystone XL Pipeline is expected to have “minimal environmental impacts in Nebraska.”
- Construction of Keystone XL will result in $418.1 million in economic benefits and support up to 4,560 new or existing jobs in Nebraska. The project will generate $16.5 million in taxes from pipeline construction materials and is expected to yield up to $13 million in local property tax revenues in its first full year of valuation.
- Normal operation of the pipeline is expected to have no effect on ground or surface water quality or use along the pipeline route in Nebraska. In the unlikely event of a spill from the pipeline, impacts on water resources would be localized and would not impact the Ogallala Aquifer as a whole.
- TransCanada will implement a detailed Emergency Response Plan for Keystone XL and is responsible for cleanup, remediation and compensation related to oil released from the pipeline.
- The 57 special conditions TransCanada has agreed to adopt for the construction, operation and maintenance of Keystone XL will make it safer than typical pipelines built in the U.S. and will result in “more rigorous adherence to industry standards.” The special conditions include burying the pipeline deeper underground, installing a higher number of data sensors and remote controlled shut-off valves and increased inspections and maintenance. TransCanada will also use special techniques to reduce disturbance and enhance pipeline safety near wetlands, rivers, residential and commercial areas, steep terrain and fragile soils.
- The physical and chemical properties of crude oil transported in Keystone XL will be similar to the light and heavy crude oils already being transported safely in pipelines across the United States. TransCanada will provide local emergency responders with Material Safety Data Sheets for products contained in the pipeline immediately in the event of a spill.
According to legislation adopted by the Nebraska State Legislature, the Governor has 30 days to review and provide a decision regarding the proposed re-route.
“Over the past year, support for Keystone XL has continued to grow in Nebraska and across the United States,’’ added Girling. “Safety remains our top priority. We will maintain a Nebraska-based emergency preparedness program with a response team in place, ready to react should an incident occur. The safety of the entire pipeline is our responsibility for as long as it operates. It’s a responsibility we take very seriously.”
In 2011, TransCanada paid more than $2.3 million in state and local taxes here in Nebraska on its original Keystone pipeline. In 2012, the tax bill we will pay in Nebraska is expected to be two to three times more than in 2011. Money that is available to help build schools, medical facilities and other community infrastructure, or to lower taxes.
With Keystone XL, we will invest more than $1 billion in Nebraska infrastructure. TransCanada’s facilities and equipment will contribute additional and significant revenue to the state and local tax base.
The entire Keystone crude oil pipeline system benefits U.S. energy security by supplying Canadian and American oil to U.S. refineries, pushing out more expensive crude oil from foreign regimes that do not support American values. In addition, our $2.3 billion investment in the Gulf Coast Project pipeline we are currently constructing (35 per cent complete) is putting 4,000 Americans to work. Keystone XL would employ a further 9,000 workers – opportunities for Americans to provide for their families.
Since the original Keystone Pipeline began operating in 2010, it has safely delivered more than 350 million barrels of oil to refineries in the U.S. Midwest. Keystone XL is designed to carry about 830,000 barrels of oil from Alberta, Montana and North Dakota to Steele City, Nebraska.