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TransCanada faces U.S. protests

Jan. 8, 2013 at 9:19 AM
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HOUSTON, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Pipeline company TransCanada said it welcomed a Nebraska review of Keystone XL as demonstrators protested the project at the company's U.S. headquarters.

Activists expressing solidarity with advocacy group Tar Sands Blockade occupied the lobby of the Houston offices of TransCanada to express concerns about the safety of oil designated for the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.

So-called tar sands oil from deposits in Alberta, Canada, is seen as more toxic to the environment than conventional crude.

"We're here today to directly confront the TransCanada executives who're continuing on with business as usual while making our communities sacrifice zones," Ramsey Sprague, a Tar Sands Blockade spokesman, said in a statement.

The protest follows a decision by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality to hand a report on a Nebraska route for Keystone XL to state Gov. Dave Heineman. Russ Girling, president and chief executive officer for pipeline planner TransCanada, said a new route for the pipeline is safe for Nebraskans.

"The re-route ensures Keystone XL will have minimal environmental impact by avoiding the area defined as the Nebraska Sandhills, crossing fewer miles of threatened and endangered species habitat and considerably fewer miles of erodible soils," he said in a statement.

Heineman has about a month to issue a report to the federal government, which needs to approve Keystone XL because it would cross the U.S. border with Canada.

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