Obama urged to OK Canada-Texas pipeline

Expansion would deliver oil, jobs

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“If it goes into a river or into an aquifer, it’s there and it will stay there,” she said.

If a state-of-the-art pipeline is spilling this often, Mr. Hentges asked, what will happen when it gets old and starts to wear down? “It’s a bad indication of things to come,” he said.

Eminent domain issues

Mr. Hentges said he also is concerned for landowners who would be uprooted to build the pipeline. He says it’s one thing for the government to use eminent domain to build a street or railroad for public use. But it’s another thing for a foreign company to be granted that right for a private business purpose.

“If you’re a landowner,” he said, “you’re immediately going to be impacted by the fact that bulldozers came through and took out your land where you live and work.”

Jane Kleeb, director of Bold Nebraska, an advocacy group opposed to the pipeline, argues that the U.S. would be better off drilling domestically rather than buying oil from a foreign source.

“We still need to be exploring drilling,” she said. “Relying on Canadian oil, or Venezuelan oil, it’s still foreign oil. The last time I checked, Canada is not part of the United States.”

Matt Letourneau, a spokesman for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Energy Institute, said that increasing domestic production cannot solve all of the nation’s problems. With U.S. demand for energy expected to go up 21 percent by 2035, he said, there will always be a need for foreign oil to supplement production at home. He said he would rather that come from Canada than the Middle East.

“Obviously, we’d like to drill domestically, too,” he said. “But it’s not an either-or proposition. We will still need to import oil, even if we dramatically increase our domestic production. The question is where that oil comes from.”

Stalled since 2008

The Keystone pipeline project started in 2005. The company received permission from the U.S. State Department to build the initial phases of the project, Keystone 1, in 2008, and the first leg was complete two years later. The second phase was finished in February when the two pipelines were connected in Steele City, Neb.

The third phase has been hung up since September 2008, when the company applied a second time to build the extensions, known as Keystone XL, to the north and the south, so that oil from Alberta could be transported to Texas.

After nearly three years, the application has yet to be approved or denied. If the Obama administration gives them the go-ahead, the full pipeline could be operational by mid-2013, the company said.

The State Department is wrapping up the last stages of its review and is expected to release its final environmental impact statement this month. The first two reviews seemed to favor the project, but the EPA has protested, so business groups are waiting to see how that affects the last report.

After the report is released, the State Department will have a 30-day comment period, when it will hold nine public hearings at locations near the pipeline. At the same time, it will have a 90-day comment period from relevant federal agencies, such as the EPA, the Energy Department, the Interior Department and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

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