No promises to move the Keystone XL pipeline. No assurances of a special legislative session.
TransCanada executives met with Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood and three other state senators for four hours Tuesday afternoon in Norfolk without reaching any conclusions in the hotly contested issue.
Norfolk Daily News Editor Kent Warneke was the only reporter allowed in the room during the meeting. Warneke tells Nebraska Radio Network TransCanada executives refused the request from state lawmakers to move the Keystone XL oil pipeline away from the Sand Hills and the Ogallala Aquifer.
“They basically said that to move the route right now would be practically impossible for them,” Warneke says.
TransCanada president of Energy and Oil Pipelines, Alex Pourbaix, and a vice president of the company who would be in charge of constructing the pipeline, Robert Jones, would only say that they would address some of the safety concerns raised by the lawmakers.
Warneke says Speaker Flood seemed no closer to favoring a special legislative session to address oil pipeline regulations after the meeting ended.
“I believe what Sen. Flood said was that they are no closer or no farther away from a special session than they were in previous days,” according to Warneke.
Joining Speaker Flood at the meeting were Sen. Chris Langemeier of Schuyler, Sen. Annette Dubas of Fullerton, and Sen. Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids. Langemeier is chairman of the committee that would consider any pipeline regulation. Dubas has proposed legislation to consider in a special session. Sullivan handled the only pipeline regulation that made it through the regular session.
TransCanada proposes building a $7 billion 36” pipeline from western Canada to the Gulf Coast, approximately 1,700 miles. It would carry crude oil made from the tar sands of Canada. The proposed route would go through the Sand Hills and the Ogallala Aquifer, which has sparked controversy in Nebraska. Critics charge that its construction would harm the fragile environment of the Sand Hills and pose possible pollution to drinking water taken from the Ogallala Aquifer.
AUDIO: Brent Martin interviews Kent Warneke [5:20 mp3]
Word document of Kent Warneke’s story from meeting [TransCanada meeting]