Less than a week after a meeting with a delegation of Nebraska state senators, the president of TransCanada has written a letter thanking them for the meeting. Alex Pourbaix says while it is impossible to move the route of the Keystone XL pipeline, his company can offer some measures that should alleviate concerns.
We have attached a copy of the letter to this story.
Some environmental concerns have been raised with the route since the planned construction would take the pipeline over the Ogallala aquifer.
Pourbaix says TransCanada is prepared to provide a performance bond of $100-million which would be made available to Nebraska in the event there was a spill in the Sand Hills and TransCanada did not clean it up.
The letter also offered to construct a concrete containment structure at a pump station in Holt County. If a spill were to happen, the structure would keep the oil from mixing with surface water.
The company would also locate more clean-up crews closer to the Sand Hills. They would be less than 2-hours away. Federal requirements are 12-hours.
In his letter, Pourbaix wrote, “As we discussed in the meeting, at this late date in the federal Presidential Permit process, it is impossible for us to move the route to avoid the Sand Hills. The Department of State's Final Environmental Impact Statement concluded that "there would be no significant impacts to most resources along the proposed Project corridor".
Sen. Mike Flood, Speaker of the Nebraska Legislature, was among those who received the letter. His office said he was still reviewing the letter and had no comment to offer late Tuesday afternoon.
Critics of the pipeline plan that would cross the Ogallala Aquifer say the new proposal is nothing but "smoke and mirrors."
Jane Kleeb with Bold Nebraska doesn't feel reassured regarding one aspect of the plan, "...if you think your pipe is not safe and therefore you need a concrete seal around it, doesn't that raise a whole series of other questions?"
The organization wants Governor Dave Heineman to step in and stop it. "We call on Heineman to call a special session immediately," said Kleeb, "to set regulations that other states have had on the books since the 1970s, things like eminent domain protection, chain of command for local emergency response, road repair fund and how pipeline routes are defined and certified in our state."
The State Department is expected to rule on the permit by the end of the year.