LINCOLN, Neb.—Nebraska gov. Dave Heineman has four weeks to decide the fate of the proposed re-routing of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline in his state.
The Republican governor received a 2,000-page final evaluation report from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) Jan. 4 addressing any potential environmental impact regarding a new pipeline route proposed by Calgary-based TransCanada in September 2012.
With the original route proposed to run through an area known an the Nebraska Sandhills—a 60,000-square kilometre section of wetland ecosystem in north-central Nebraska—TransCanada submitted a revised proposal that would see the pipeline route run parallel with the protected area’s eastern border before reconnecting with the original route east of Aurora, Neb.
“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,” TransCanada president and CEO Russell Girling said in a statement regarding the NDEQ report.
According to the NDEQ report, the proposed re-route would intersect the High Plains Acquifier watershed, but avoids areas of fragile soil in the northern region of the state.
The NDEQ report highlighted a variety of non-environmental aspects of the project, including an estimated $418-million in economic benefits, the retention or creation of up to 4,560 jobs, up to $13-million in local property taxes in the pipeline’s first full year and $16.5-million in construction and materials taxes.
Under state legislation, Heineman has 30 days to evaluate the report before giving his decision to the U.S. Department of State (DOS).
The DOS will include the governor’s decision in its supplemental environment impact statement.