The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality released the environmental assessment for the Keystone XL pipeline route. This is a new route planned in response to concerns about the Nebraska Sandhills and potential contamination of the Ogallala Aquifer.
The Keystone XL pipeline will carry tar sands from Alberta, Canada, across the middle of the United States, to refineries along the Gulf Coast of Texas. Tar sands are stickier than regular crude oil. When a pipeline leaks – and they all leak at some time – the tar sands are nearly impossible to clean up.
The planned route of the Keystone XL pipeline across Nebraska has been moved away from the Nebraska Sandhills. The route will also avoid many habitats vital to endangered species (but not all such habitats).
TransCanada has agreed to bury the Keystone XL pipeline deeper underground than most oil pipelines are buried. They have also agreed to add more data sensors and remote controlled shut-off valves as well as scheduling more inspections and maintenance than is usual for an oil pipeline.
This agreement between Nebraska and TransCanada will likely move forward authorization to build the Keystone XL pipeline. However, many risks remain the same. Tar sands are still extremely difficult to clean up, even if they are away from endangered species.
On Monday, protestors staging a “die-in” briefly shut down TransCanada’s Houston office. Most protests have been held near construction areas along the Keystone XL pipeline. The protest in the Galleria area of Houston was the first at the offices.
Nebraska Sandhills photo via Shutterstock