Governor Dave Heineman has approved a 195 mile alternate route through Nebraska for the Keystone XL pipeline project.
Heineman announced his decision Tuesday in a letter to President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Earlier this month, Heineman received a new report from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality for further evaluation of the route. That followed a series of public meetings over a seven-month period.
In the letter, Governor Heineman says he approved the alternate route because it avoids the Sand Hills and a shallow ground water area. Construction could bring $481 million in economic development benefits, along with $11 million in local property tax revenue.
The letter also says pipeline developer TransCanada would be responsible for an emergency plan and responsibility in the event of a spill. Heineman acknowledges that the pipeline would cross the High Plains Aquifer, but impacts in the event of a spill “should be localized.”
Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska, a group opposed to the Keystone XL project, said in a statement on the group’s website that the Governor “turned his back on landowners and citizens who asked for an unbiased review of the risks of this pipeline.”