TransCanada Corp. said Monday it has reached a tentative deal with Nebraska officials to move the proposed route of its Keystone XL pipeline away from an environmentally sensitive region, seeking to keep the project alive after the U.S. government postponed approval.
A U.S. State Department official on Monday night repeated earlier estimates that an environmental assessment of the revised route would take 12 to 18 months, meaning a decision would come after the 2012 U.S. elections a convenient position for the Obama administration.
Environmentalists were concerned about the pipeline’s original proposed route through the Sand Hills, a region of sandy soil that sits atop the Ogallala aquifer used for drinking water.
The pipeline’s supporters in the Canadian government and the North American energy industry say it will boost Alberta’s already-booming oil-production business. The expansion of the Keystone pipeline would double the amount of heavy Canadian crude TransCanada ships from Alberta to the heart of the U.S. refining industry in Texas and provide thousands of new jobs.