Nebraska lawmakers vote to reroute oil pipeline

Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:50pm EST
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By Michael Avok

LINCOLN, Neb (Reuters) - The Nebraska legislature on Wednesday voted unanimously to advance a proposed law that would reroute the controversial TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline to avoid the sensitive Sandhills and Ogallala aquifer.

Nebraska and TransCanada Corp agreed Monday to find a new route for the stalled pipeline.

Under pressure from green groups, the U.S. State Department last week ordered the company to find a new route for the line in a decision that set back the timing of the $7 billion, Canada-to-Texas pipeline by more than a year.

The pipeline would carry crude oil from Canada's oilsands area to Texas refineries.

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman would have final state approval on any proposed route.

Under the bill, the state would pay for a new environmental study for the new route. Lawmakers on Wednesday also approved paying up to $2 million for the study.

In the Nebraska legislature, bills must be voted on three times. The environmental study legislation will be voted on again on Friday, and if necessary again on Tuesday.

"It's a necessary expenditure," said State Sen. Bill Avery. "We need to make sure this is something we control."   Continued...