Proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline wonder why the State
Department is putting off a decision on a newly approved
Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman (R) this week approved the reroute for part of the
line running through his state. While he says it avoids the
Sandhills Region -- a sticking point with some opponents in
previous years -- Heineman acknowledges that the pipeline
would cross a vital aquifer.
TransCanada, the company behind the project, has pledged to
implement an emergency response plan in the "unlikely" event of a
spill. It has also declared itself responsible for any cleanup,
remediation and compensation.
But since that announcement, the State Department has delayed a decision until March.
Dan Kish, senior vice president for
policy at the Institute for Energy Research, is not shocked
by the delay.
"They've reviewed it three times previously and found no
trouble. The president himself made a determination that it was not
in the public interest when he had to make a decision last year,"
Kish recalls. "But ultimately, this is the way our government
works, which is why it takes so much longer to do anything if
you're dealing with the government than anyone else."
Nick Loris, an economist following on energy policy for The Heritage
Foundation, calls the delay "unfortunate."
"In 2011, the State
Department said that the original route of the pipeline would pose
minimal environmental risk, and that was a two-and-a-half-year
review process," he notes.
Delays and reroutes aside, some environmentalists remain
concerned about the pipeline carrying a substance known as diluted bitumen, claiming it is more harmful
to pipelines and the environment than conventional crude oil.
TransCanada has dismissed those concerns, telling OneNewsNow
that "diluted bitumen has been proven by many studies to behave
exactly like any other crude in a pipeline" and "is no more
dangerous or corrosive to a pipeline than any other kind of crude
Meanwhile, a state court has challenged the law that gives Gov.
Heineman authority to approve a reroute.