Pipeline reroute delayed, drawn out

Thursday, January 24, 2013
 | 
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com)

Proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline wonder why the State Department is putting off a decision on a newly approved reroute.

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.

Kish, Dan (IER)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."

Loris, Nick (Heritage)"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 oil."

Meanwhile, a state court has challenged the law that gives Gov. Heineman authority to approve a reroute.

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