Heineman has urged President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to deny TransCanada's permit to build the pipeline unless the route is changed. The $7 billion pipeline would carry oil across the Nebraska Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the region's largest sources of water for irrigation.
TransCanada responded in an Oct. 24, 2011 statement: "The three-year final Environmental impact Statement concluded Keystone XL would have minimal impact on the environment. Fourteen routes were analyzed, eight that would impact Nebraska. The pipeline takes the safest route - physically and environmentally.” TransCanada also offered $100 million bond and oil spill protection measures in hopes of deflating opposition to the pipeline's route.
On Oct. 25, 2011, three environmental groups sued the US government over concerns that the pipeline posed a threat to endangered species. President Obama told a pipeline opponent who interrupted his remarks at an Oct. 26, 2011 Denver event that "We're looking at it right now, all right? No decision's been made and I know your deep concern about it, so we will address it." Protesters at the Denver event holding a "Stop the Keystone Pipeline Project" banner were asked to leave.
Efforts to change the route are the latest development in the controversy around the pipeline which was first proposed on Feb. 9, 2005. Nine former Nobel Peace Laureates, including the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Rigoberta Menchú Tum, sent a letter to President Obama on Sep. 7, 2011 urging him to reject the pipeline proposal and "turn your attention back to supporting renewable sources of energy and clean transportation solutions.”
Supporters of the pipeline, including US Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st Century Energy and Gary Doer, Canadian Ambassador to the US, say that it will create jobs and reduce American dependence on Middle East oil. Fossil fuels, including petroleum, coal, and natural gas, accounted for 83.5% of US energy needs in 2008, the most recent figures available from the US Energy Information Agency (EIA). 43% of total US oil consumption is used in automobiles and piston engine aircraft.
Jeff Mason, "Obama Says Will Address Concerns on Keystone Pipeline," www.reuters.com, Oct. 26, 2011
Kim Murphy, "Nebraska Legislature Plans Special Session on Keystone XL Project," www.latimes.com, Oct. 24, 2011
Timothy Gardner, "3-Nebraska Gov to Call Session on Keystone Pipeline," www.reuters.com, Oct. 24, 2011
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