Governor Wants Obama to Reconsider Pipeline Decision

Governor Wants Obama to Reconsider Pipeline Decision

After president's permit denial, Nebraska looks at its options on how to proceed with potential alternative route away from Sandhills.

Gov. Dave Heineman plans to urge President Obama to reverse his decision denying a permit for TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone XL pipeline and let construction begin in segments in U.S. border states, according to news reports.

Heineman, chairman of the National Governors Association, said this approach would give Nebraska time to conduct an environmental review without stalling the $7 billion project.

Obama announced on Jan. 18 that he agreed with the State Department's recommendation to deny TransCanada's permit application because a deadline set by congressional Republicans prevented a full review of the pipeline's health and environmental impact. His administration invited TransCanada to reapply, which the company said it would accept.

Nebraska officials had made an agreement with TransCanada to reroute the pipeline away from the Nebraska Sandhills, which overlies the vast Ogallala Aquifer. The original route through a northeast portion of the Sandhills caused significant opposition within the state and out of Nebraska.

As a result of this agreement, Nebraska officials had planned to conduct its own environmental review of a new route once TransCanada selected that route. The state signed an agreement for $1.6 million to HDR Engineering of Omaha to work with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality on an environmental impact statement of a new route. That agreement and contract are now in limbo with Obama's permit rejection.

Nebraska will take "a timeout" from its review "to figure out how we continue to move forward," Heineman, said yesterday during a break in a National Governors Association meeting.

"I just want to suggest to the president that, let's put American jobs first, let's reduce our dependence on foreign oil," Heineman told members of the media. "And if this pipeline makes sense, which I think it does, and we've certainly had some indication from the president that's where he wants to head, let's make the decision now, not 10 months from now."

The State Department must issue a permit for the pipeline to proceed because it would cross an international border.

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