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TransCanada Reply to Johanns: Build Across Nebraska to Save Saskatchewan!

November 5, 2010

In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dated November 3, 2010, TransCanada slams Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) concerns about the safety of the Nebraska Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer, in a letter that concludes:

“To engage in a supplemental review of alternative routes, such as the route suggested in Senator Johanns’ letter, which is obviously environmentally inferior on its face, or for the purpose of re-starting the ongoing consideration of soils issues, would elevate process over rational decision making, with no benefit to the public, while delaying the important pending national interest determination.”

Struck a nerve? Johanns’ letter asks for further consideration of the route of the Keystone I pipeline, which already passes through eastern Nebraska, and of the impact of construction on the fragile, biologically unique Sandhills. In the Nov. 3 letter, TransCanada claims that using the existing Keystone I route would have greater environmental impacts than the proposed diagonal route because Keystone I converted “an underutilized portion of an existing natural gas pipeline” to “avoid 537 miles of new construction.” But the US portion of the Keystone I route is still hundreds of miles shorter than the proposed Keystone XL route, and it’s been recently excavated.

Here’s TransCanada’s real problem with the Keystone I route:

“To parallel the Keystone pipeline, the route would have to diverge from the proposed route in Alberta and run to the east through Saskatchewan, and Manitoba for 600 miles to a point where the route would turn south and run through North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska.”

So the route in Canada would be longer, which is where the greater environmental impact would be. In a nutshell, TransCanada is urging the U.S. State Department to approve the diagonal Keystone XL route to reduce environmental impacts in Canada (not to mention significant additional cost to TransCanada, which they don’t mention), in spite of the fact that the U.S. Keystone XL route is hundreds of miles longer than the Keystone I-parallel route, tears up the Sandhills, and puts the Ogallala Aquifer at risk.

Well hey, as long as there’s no damage done in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, everybody in Nebraska ought to be okay with this, right? Hang on while we go look up the definition of “national interest” in the dictionary.

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