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Nebraska Congressmen Have Varying Ideas of Keystone XL Timeline

May 25, 2011

U.S. Senator Ben Nelson, of Nebraska, said that he would favor a deadline for the final verdict in the Keystone XL project if he felt the State Department was stalling. But he believes that the agency is doing its job by reviewing all of the information before allowing the proposed pipeline to flow from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast. On May 25, The Omaha World-Herald reported that Nelson would like to see more review of the project to make sure it does not endanger any ground water along its path.

“I’m patient enough to have them finish all their studies, so that we don’t end up with a mistake that would maybe cost us in the long run because of the impact to groundwater … ,” Nelson said.

On the other side of the fence, U.S. Representative Lee Terry, of Nebraska, feels that the State Department should have sufficient information to make a decision by late this year. He introduced legislation that would force the agency to make a final call about the Keystone XL pipeline by November 1, 2011. The bill is predicted to move quickly through the House of Representative, but will face challenges in the Senate.

A similar deadline is part of a broader GOP Senate bill introduced in March to foster more exploration and drilling for oil. Under that bill, the State Department would be required to issue a decision within four months of passage.

Senator Mike Johanns, of Nebraska, co-sponsored the bill. At one point Johanns urged the administration to prolong the public comment period, but he now believes that they will have ample time to make a decision by the November 1 deadline. The administration has said it should reach a decision before the end of the year.

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