WASHINGTON — The Canadian company seeking to build the Keystone XL pipeline submitted a new permit application on Friday for the segment proposed to carry crude from Alberta, Canada to Nebraska. The move sets off a new round of reviews by the U.S. State Department and triggered more criticism from environmental groups and landowners along the proposed route.
TransCanada, which had its application rejected by the Obama administration in January because no route through Nebraska had been finalized, suggested Friday that the State Department could now rely on thousands of pages of material gathered during three years of reviews for its previous application.
Russ Girling, Trans
“It was the most comprehensive process ever for a cross-border pipeline and that work should allow our cross border permit to be processed expeditiously and a decision made once a new route in Nebraska is determined.”
But environmental groups said Friday that the process should begin from scratch because the consulting company that led the previous environmental reviews was tainted by its ties to TransCanada.
Moreover, the groups and some Nebraskans said the proposed routes through Nebraska still threaten the ecologically sensitive Sandhills region and the Ogallala Aquifer; concern about the pipeline's passage through those areas stalled the original application last year.
The State Department, which must approve the Canada-Nebraska segment since it crosses an international border, has said a new review could last until early next year. Nebraska's state review is expected to take six to nine months.
The department said in a statement Friday that the new review would use “existing analysis, as appropriate” and examine energy security, health, environmental, cultural, economic and foreign policy concerns.
“We will begin by hiring an independent third-party contractor to assist the department, including reviewing the existing Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) from the prior Keystone XL pipeline review process, as well as identifying and assisting with new analysis.”