LINCOLN, Neb. — Officials have unveiled a new preferred route for the Nebraska portion of the stalled Keystone XL oil pipeline that avoids the state’s groundwater-rich Sandhills region.
Nebraska environmental officials released details Thursday about the proposal that would veer east around the Sandhills before looping back to the original route.
Developer TransCanada (TSX:TRP) says the reroute adds about 160 kilometres to the original 2,700-kilometre project that would carry oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast.
TransCanada submitted the proposal after Gov. Dave Heineman allowed the state officials to proceed with an environmental review.
The review had stalled in January after the Obama administration rejected a federal permit for the pipeline.
Administration officials said they didn’t have time to review the project before a congressional deadline and cited uncertainty about the Nebraska route.
President Barack Obama’s stance on the Keystone plan has endured ferocious Republican attacks, with Republicans calling the move a blow to job creation and U.S. energy needs.
The president maintains Republican leaders in Congress forced his hand by insisting on a decision before an acceptable pipeline route was found.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has voiced disappointment with Obama’s decision. He also visited China in February to explore alternatives.
Canada has the world’s third-largest oil reserves, more than 170 billion barrels, after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, and daily production of 1.5 million barrels from the oil sands is expected to rise to 3.7 million by 2025.
Environmentalists have mounted an extensive campaign against Keystone XL, assailing the plan to transport millions of barrels a week of bitumen — an energy source they decry as “dirty oil” — to the Gulf Coast.