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Nebraska Clears Way for Keystone XL

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted January 22, 2013

The decision by Nebraska’s governor to OK a new route through his state for the Keystone XL pipeline is based on a factual assessment of the project’s safety, as well as the economic benefits that would accrue. Fuel has news coverage here. In a notification letter to President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Gov. Dave Heineman wrote that his state’s Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) found:

  • Construction and operation of Keystone XL, with builder TransCanada’s commitments to safety, “would have minimal environmental impacts in Nebraska.” NDEQ said the new Keystone XL route avoids the sensitive Sand Hills as well as fragile soils in the northern part of the state.

  • The pipeline’s construction would bring to the state more than $418 million in economic benefits and $16.5 million in use taxes from construction materials.

  • Annual local property taxes in the first full year of valuation would be between $11 million and $13 million.

The economic benefits are similar to those estimated in a recent report by Creighton University economist Ernie Goss and his team. Heineman, who voiced concerns about the pipeline’s original route more than a year ago, noted TransCanada will take steps to ensure environmental safety, including:

  • Development of an emergency response plan in the event of a crude oil release.

  • Make available to landowners baseline water well testing prior to construction – for domestic and livestock wells within 300 feet of the centerline of the pipeline’s route.

Adherence to 57 special safety conditions related to the Keystone XL’s design, construction and operation developed with the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

API Executive Vice President Marty Durbin said the governor’s approval provides more impetus for President Obama to green light the full Keystone XL project:

“With the approval from Nebraska in hand, the president can be confident that the remaining environmental concerns have been addressed. Together with the thousands of building trades jobs that will be created almost immediately, Keystone XL is most definitely in our nation’s interest.  … The jobs, economic benefits and energy security that come with building Keystone XL remain the driving forces behind the strong support for this project in Nebraska and across the nation.”

Review of the Keystone XL project has been ongoing for more than four years. It would bring jobs all along the construction route and stimulate economic growth beyond the pipeline itself – while also playing a major role in the strengthening of our energy partnership with Canada. The president already has approved construction of the pipeline’s southern leg, and work on that is under way. Now that Nebraska is onboard he should approve the rest of the project as well.


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.