Nebraska and TransCanada reached a deal this week to find a new route for the stalled Keystone XL Pipeline that will steer clear of environmentally sensitive land. The deal calls for TransCanada to change the route from the Sandhills region and the Ogallala aquifer.
Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen says the decision is a victory for ranchers and other landowners.
"Our ranchers and the folks that are up on the North end especially that are in the heart of the Sandhills this is a huge win for them," Hansen said. "We are also wanting to make sure that we are following through with the deal and get the permanent siting and routing provisions passed for future pipelines."
Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman called the Nebraska Unicameral into a special legislative session that began on Nov. 1 in the hope of legislating the placement of the pipeline. Heineman said that most Nebraskans support the pipeline, but they think the possibility of a spill into the aquifer is a risk and that the pipeline needs to take a different route. The Keystone/XL pipeline will carry oil derived from tar sands in Alberta, Canada to refineries in Houston and Port Arthur, Texas. The 1,700 mile pipeline will travel through Montana, South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.
The agreement calls for the state to pay for new studies to find a new route for the pipeline. Hansen says that’s a good compromise that makes sense.
"It represents we think a much more responsible approach so we are extremely pleased," Hansen said. "I think everybody involved, all the players, had to give some and I think that’s what’s happened."
TransCanada’s president, meanwhile, praised Nebraska State Speaker Mike Flood for his leadership and guidance in bringing all parties together to find a solution.