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Oil pipeline divisive issue in U.S.

Aug. 29, 2011 at 9:05 AM   |   Comments

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LINCOLN, Neb., Aug. 29 (UPI) -- The route for a pipeline carrying oil from tar sands projects in Alberta, Canada, doesn't seem like a good idea for Nebraska, a federal lawmaker said.

The U.S. State Department cleared a major obstacle for TransCanada's plans to extend a pipeline network that would carry heavy crude oil to refiners in Texas.

Kerri-Ann Jones, assistant secretary of the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, said the project, Keystone XL, could be developed without causing major damage to the environment.

"There would be no significant impacts to most resources along the proposed pipeline corridor," she said in a statement.

But at least one lawmaker disagrees. U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., called for two public meetings in his state next month to review the route for the project.

"Many Nebraskans share the view that TransCanada has simply chosen the wrong route," he said in a statement. He doesn't oppose the project, he stressed, but noted that current plans have it passing through a regional aquifer.

Cindy Schild, refining manager for the American Petroleum Institute, said Washington should back the project not only to boost U.S. employment numbers but also because of its benefit to energy security.

"More energy from a friendly ally makes sense," she said in a statement.

Protesters blocked the steps of the White House during recent protests over Keystone XL. Critics, like environmental advocacy group Friends of Earth, said the State Department's analysis of the pipeline fell "far short of the standards required under law."

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