TransCanada says oil pipeline route unlikely to change

Thu Oct 13, 2011 8:19am EDT
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OMAHA, NEB (Reuters) - The controversial proposed path of the TransCanada Keystone XL oil pipeline across Nebraska is unlikely to change, company officials said Tuesday.

Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada's president of energy and oil pipelines, and Robert Jones, a TransCanada vice president who would be in charge of constructing the pipeline, met in Norfolk, Nebraska with four Nebraska state senators.

"We understand that the best solution from your perspective is to move the route. We don't believe that is an option for us," Pourbaix said.

"But there are things we can do together to improve the situation and add to your comfort level."

The project would cut across a corner of Nebraska's environmentally-fragile Sandhills and the water-rich Ogallala Aquifer. Opposition to the route has swelled in recent months. Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman asked the U.S. State Department last week whether the state can pass and enforce its own pipeline siting law.

State lawmakers are considering calling a special session of the Legislature to consider a siting law. The special session issue was not discussed at the Norfolk meeting.

"Clearly, the contamination of groundwater is the top concern," said State Sen. Mike Flood of Norfolk, who organized the meeting.

Pourbaix said he understood the concern. "The Sandhills are a challenge, but pipelines are built where there is surface water all the time," he said.

The TransCanada officials said that if Nebraska had passed pipeline siting legislation two or three years ago, the route might have been changed.   Continued...