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Daily Newscasts

Keystone XL Pipeline Decision: Delay Hasn't Stalled Debate

November 28, 2011

ABERDEEN, S.D. - TransCanada Corporation is seeking presidential authorization to build its $7.5 billion Keystone XL pipeline. The line would transport tar sands crude oil from Alberta, Canada, through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska on its way to refineries on the Gulf coast.

A number of groups, including landowners and environmentalists, have banded together to oppose construction of the line. And even though that decision has been postponed until late next year, Peter Carrels, regional representative of the Sierra Club, says they believe more factors than election-year politics are at work.

"I think by blaming this on politics, pipeline supporters are avoiding the truth about a process that was bungled and tainted, as well as avoiding the truth about a pipeline planned by TransCanada that was faulty, in many respects, from the very beginning."

The Nebraska Legislature met in special session last week and passed two bills giving the state more authority in setting pipeline routes. In return, TransCanada has agreed to reroute Keystone XL around the Nebraska Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer.

Carrels thinks South Dakota officials should take some cues from those moves.

"We need to be erring on the side of safety and protecting the public, and not on the side of big oil companies like TransCanada. Their bottom line does not correspond to the public's bottom line, in my estimation."

Supporters of the pipeline say it's a potential large source of oil from a friendly neighbor, and claim there would be minimal transportation risks by using a pipeline instead of trucking oil to the Gulf. The first Keystone pipeline across eastern South Dakota has been operational since last year.

A final decision on the authorization of the Keystone XL pipeline will be made by President Obama, but not until after the November 2012 election.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD