TransCanada’s revised Keystone pipeline with State Department


An aerial view of a tailings pond at the Suncor oil sands mine near Fort McMurray, Alta. At an estimated 175 billion barrels, Alberta's oil sands are the second largest oil reserve in the world behind Saudi Arabia, but were neglected for years because of high extraction costs.



TransCanada Energy’s revised application for its Keystone XL oil pipeline was received today by the US State Department, but the new path is still angering environmentalists, The Associated Press reported. 

The different route will avoid the sensitive Sandhills region of Nebraska, the area that forced President Barack Obama to halt the plan earlier this year.

However, a Nebraska group opposed to the plan said Keystone would still travel near an aquifer used by eight states.

“The fundamental facts remain: Americans are being asked to put clean water at risk for an extreme form of energy that will add nothing to our energy security,” Jane Kleeb, executive director of Bold Nebraska, told the AP.

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The $7-billion pipeline would run from northern Alberta and oilsand (or tar sand) extraction sites to Steele City, Neb., and (eventually) refineries at the Gulf of Mexico, The Washington Post said.

Because it crosses the US-Canada border, the State Department must approve the plan.

TransCanada president Russ Girling said the route – first proposed in 2008 – is undergoing a thorough environmental review.

“The multi-billion dollar Keystone XL pipeline project will reduce the United States’ dependence on foreign oil and support job growth by putting thousands of Americans to work,” Girling said, according to the Post.

A State Department news release said it would “determine if granting a permit for the proposed pipeline is in the national interest,” Reuters reported.

The earliest it could be approved in late 2013, after reviews based on environmental, health, cultural, economic, and foreign policy factors.

“We will conduct our review efficiently, using existing analysis as appropriate,” a State Department release said, according to Reuters.

At the heart of the debate is a jobs-vs.-environmental concern.

Proponents say thousands of jobs will be created in the construction and processing.

However, opponents said Americans should be looking past fossil fuel dependence.

“Tar sands oil is highly corrosive, and pipelines that carry it have proven more prone to spills than those for conventional crude,” Frances Beinecke, president of Natural Resources Defense Council, wrote on her blog.

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