LINCOLN, Neb., Dec. 6 (UPI) -- A preliminary decision on the planned Keystone XL oil pipeline is expected from the U.S. State Department relatively soon, an official said.
Nebraskans this week expressed opinions regarding the latest route proposal through the state from TransCanada, the company planning the pipeline.
Nebraska regulators last month published a draft evaluation report for the pipeline, saying a route proposed by TransCanada avoids the ecologically sensitive Sand Hills.
A State Department official was quoted by the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald as saying a federal environmental impact statement on the route was expected "in the near future."
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman has authority over pipeline decisions in his state. The State Department makes the final decision, however, because the pipeline would cross the U.S. border with Canada.
Jane Kleeb, executive director of project opponent Bold Nebraska, said the new route is "no better" than TransCanada's previous proposals.
"TransCanada is still risking our aquifer and still risking the fragile sandy soils of our state," she said in a statement.
Supporters of the project say it would support U.S. energy security and the economy. Opponents have expressed concern over a series of pipeline spills and the environmental consequences of exploiting tar sands oil, the type of crude designated from Keystone XL.