An executive with Keystone Pipeline insists that the route chosen for the $7 billion, 1,700 mile oil pipeline is the safest route available, even if it does cut through the Sand Hills and the Ogallala Aquifer in Nebraska.
Robert Jones with TransCanada addresses the big question in Nebraska: why not change the route?
“I get asked this question all the time: why don’t you just move the pipeline 60 miles to the east” Jones responds to a reporter’s question during a news conference in Lincoln this morning. “And the reason is because, first of all, I want to reassure Nebraskans that the aquifer and their drinking water is safe and building a pipeline in the Sand Hills is safe as well.”
Jones says TransCanada considered eight different routes and concluded the route through the Sand Hills and the Ogallala Aquifer is the preferred route.
“After all these reviews, when you look at the routing, the science says that the most environmentally correct route, the one that impacts the environment the least is the one that was selected,” Jones says.
He also acknowledges that changing the route would delay construction of the pipeline for another two-to-three years, because it would trigger another environmental impact study.
Jones says fear drives the opposition to the pipeline in Nebraska.
“I believe what’s happened here is that outside groups and within Nebraska, groups that are opposed to this project, opposed to development, have used a simple message of fear. That is, if there is a leak, the aquifer will be contaminated and it will impact my drinking water or I won’t be able to do my irrigation,” according to Jones. “This couldn’t be farther from the truth.”
Supporters of the pipeline head a news conference in Lincoln prior to the State Department public hearing on whether the federal government should grant a permit to build the oil pipeline from western Canada to the Gulf Coast in Texas.
AUDIO: Pro pipeline news conference prior to State Department public hearing [35 min mp3]