TransCanada company officials have met with all county commissions along the pipeline's proposed route. TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard said the company has promised to build the $7 billion pipeline to rigorous safety standards and carry $200 million in insurance to cover any cleanup costs.
“We work very hard to be seen as a good neighbor and to answer the questions that landowners, regulators or elected officials may have,” Howard said.
The company says that pipeline opponents are resorting to delaying tactics.
For the officials in rural, sparsely populated counties, the pipeline presents a difficult balancing act between landowners' concerns about their private property rights and the potential exposure to company lawsuits.
“You hope to make the right decisions, to support what your constituents are thinking,” said Holt County Commissioner William Tielke. “But we still have to follow the rules of the federal government.”
Obama said last week the project from Canada to Texas should be approved if it doesn't worsen carbon pollution.