Our need for energy is important to our daily lives and our economy and oil is among the energy sources that will help us meet this demand. An oil pipeline, known as the Keystone XL pipeline, has been proposed by TransCanada Corporation to deliver oil from its sources in Canada, Montana and North Dakota through Nebraska to refineries in Oklahoma and Texas. This pipeline has the potential to help our country meet our critical need for energy.
For more than a year, I repeatedly raised concerns about the original route of the pipeline, which was proposed with no regard for the unique natural resources it crossed. I’m not against oil pipelines or tar sands oil, but the original route was wrong. I am pleased that after hearing the concerns of Nebraskans, TransCanada agreed to voluntarily move the Keystone XL pipeline’s route around the Sand Hills.
Now that concerns with the route have been addressed, the Administration should approve the project. That's why in November 2011, I offered my support to a bill that prevents unnecessary delays in the Keystone XL pipeline process. Unfortunately, on January 18, 2012, President Obama agreed with the State Department's recommendation and publicly announced that the Keystone XL pipeline project "would not serve the national interest."
On April 17, 2012, Governor Dave Heineman signed legislation (LB1161) into law that permits the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) to evaluate routes of proposed pipelines in the state. This legislation would allow NDEQ to resume work in its evaluation of a new route for the Keystone XL pipeline. In addition, the bill includes a provision that would require any pipeline project applicant wanting to construct a major oil pipeline in Nebraska (TransCanada in this case) to pay for the cost of NDEQ's route evaluation. The bill also contains language to clarify certain eminent domain rights. Provisions in this bill are in addition to previous legislation (LB1 and LB4) that was passed by the Nebraska State Legislature during a special session in November 2011. Under the bill, construction of any pipeline would begin after approval of the route by the Governor. On January 22, 2013, Governor Heineman approved the route reviewed in the final evaluation report, which avoids the environmentally-sensitive Sand Hills region of Nebraska, and sent a letter to President Obama notifying him of the new approved route.
I am pleased that Nebraska experts and leaders have examined and approved a route through our state for the Keystone XL pipeline. This important project will create jobs and increase our energy supply. With Governor Heineman’s approval now conveyed to President Obama, it is time to give it the final green light. I hope President Obama will swiftly approve the project so we can take a significant step forward in meeting our energy needs.