The governor of Nebraska says he has no problem with TransCanada building an oil pipeline through his state -- he just wants it on the other side of the state.
TransCanada already has a route along the eastern side of our state, Gov. David Heineman, a Republican, told Bloomberg Television on Monday night. If they put this second pipeline right next to it, I'll stand up and be supportive, so will Nebraskans, and this controversy will end.
The current plans have the pipeline going through the Sandhills of northwestern Nebraska and over the Ogallala aquifer, which provides about 80 percent of the state's drinking and irrigation water. TransCanada has promised sophisticated safety systems, but residents are still worried.
Why would you put it over the Ogallala aquifer and risk an oil spill or an oil leak and possible contamination of our water? Heineman said.
TransCanada: Too Late to Change Pipeline Route
TransCanada officials said it was impossible to change the route of the pipeline this late in the game. The project is already three years into the federal approval process, and a new route would require many of the steps, including a several-month environmental impact study, to be redone.
The route that has been selected is the most environmentally responsible and has the least impact to the land the pipeline will go through, TransCanada spokesman Terry Cunha told Bloomberg BusinessWeek.
The $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline would carry 700,000 barrels of crude oil each day from Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Texas, creating up to 20,000 jobs in the short term and decreasing the United States' dependence on oil from the Middle East and Venezuela in the long term.
The debate has become twofold: whether the risk of an oil spill or leak is serious enough to justify overhauling the project at this late stage, and if so, whether Nebraska officials have the right to demand that TransCanada reroute the pipeline.
TransCanada argues that the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, which gives Congress the right to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several states, precludes Nebraska from taking unilateral action that would put its own interests above the national interest. But the Nebraska legislature is considering several bills that would push for a new route.