WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Questions from the Nebraska Public Power District over timelines for the Keystone XL pipeline construction aren't surprising, a TransCanada spokesman said.
Pipeline company TransCanada asked the NPPD to have transmission lines in place for the planned oil pipeline from Canada by the end of 2014. This week, Tom Kent, chief operating officer at the NPPD, was quoted by the Columbus (Neb.) Telegram as saying that was "wishful thinking."
Nebraskan concerns about the route for the pipeline prompted TransCanada to develop a news route to avoid the state's sensitive Sand Hills ecosystem.
TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard told United Press International the NPPD issue wasn't a surprise.
"This is not a matter that is a surprise to TransCanada and we are planning accordingly and continuing to work with Nebraska officials," he said. "The reroute process in Nebraska has impacted much of the timing and scope of these transmission lines."
Thousands of protesters gathered last weekend in Washington to protest the pipeline. Supporters of the project see it as a way to ensure regional energy security while boosting the North American economy. Opponents say the type of oil designated for Keystone XL, dubbed tar sands oil, poses a significant environmental risk.
Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada's president of energy and oil pipelines, said during a news conference Tuesday that environmental concerns over tar sands "have been overstated."