Keystone XL debate enters new phase

May 7, 2012 at 8:55 AM

WASHINGTON, May 7 (UPI) -- Environmentalists claim there's nothing new in TransCanada's permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, through a trade group said the project would help the economy.

TransCanada Corp. last week announced it submitted an application to the U.S. State Department for the Keystone XL pipeline from the Montana border with Canada to Steele City, Nebraska. It needs federal approval because the entire project would cross national borders.

The company faced legislative hurdles because of opposition to a route planned through a key aquifer in Nebraska. The company submitted "a preferred corridor" to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality in April to avoid the aquifer.

Jeremy Symons, senior vice president of the National Wildlife Federation, said there's not much new in TransCanada's alternative, however.

"The only thing this pipeline would guarantee is billions in annual profit for oil companies, while risking long-lasting damage to our waters and lands," he said in a statement.

He said that's why Keystone backers are so enthusiastic about the project. But Marty Durbin, executive vice president at trade group American Petroleum Institute, said the Keystone XL project should be approved.

"Keystone XL is a job creator and will bring more reliable Canadian oil to the market, which could help bring downward pressure on prices at the pump," he said in a statement.

TransCanada said that, if approved, construction would begin in early 2013.

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