Nebraska Governor to Call Special Session on Keystone XL Pipeline

The session could lead to a change in the pipeline's route away from Nebraska's Sand Hills region and the Ogallala Aquifer.

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, courtesy of the governor's office

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Nebraska’s governor will call a special session of the state’s legislature over TransCanada Corp’s proposed oil sands pipeline that would cross ecologically sensitive areas in his state, an aide said.

Governor Dave Heineman does not oppose the Canada-to-Texas pipeline outright but wants TransCanada to change the route away from Nebraska’s Sand Hills region, which sits atop the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the largest sources of water for farms in the central United States.

If Nebraska succeeds in changing the route for the Alberta-to-Texas pipeline, it could add delays for the project. The pipeline would take oil sands crude from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries, and potentially to its ports for export.

Supporters say the line would provide thousands of jobs and increase imports from a friendly neighbor. Opponents say oil sands crude causes more greenhouse gas emissions and that the petroleum is more corrosive to pipelines than average crude oils.

Last week, Mike Flood, the speaker of the state legislature, advised against a measure that would force TransCanada to move the right-of-way from the Sand Hills, saying such a move would unlikely hold up in court.

TransCanada has said it is too late in the federal approval process to move the proposed path for the line.

The U.S. State Department hopes to decide whether to greenlight the 700,000-barrels-per-day or more pipeline by the end of this year.