TransCanada announced today that it would reroute its planed Keystone XL Pipeline, which would carry crude oil from Canada to Texas. The company said the new route woud avoid the Sandhills area of Nebraska, which is home to an important aquifer.
The company announced the decision Monday at a news conference at the Nebraska Capitol. TransCanada official Alex Pourbax says the company remains confident it will eventually get a pipeline approved, albeit with a different route.
That comes after the federal government's announcement last week that it would delay a decision on a federal permit for the project until it studies new potential routes that avoid the Sandhills areas of Nebraska and the Ogallala aquifer, a vast underground water supply.
The Los Angeles Times reports this saves both the Federal government and the Nebraska government from having to make tough decisions. The Times reports the Nebraska legislature was holding a special session to debate the pipeline when the news broke:
"We were at the Capitol building, they were in special session, and Speaker Flood stopped everything and said that everything was over, and TransCanada has voluntarily moved the pipeline out of the Sand Hills of Nebraska," said Todd Cone, a rancher who has been one of many battling the route through central Nebraska.
"We don't have to worry about it anymore," he said.
Matt Boever, spokesman for the speaker, confirmed that Flood had made the announcement after receiving a letter from the U.S. State Department confirming the department's willingness to work with Nebraska state officials to explore other routes for the pipeline through Nebraska.
As NPR's Richard Harris reported last week, the pipeline seemed like a done deal. But environmentalists made it a key rallying point, forcing the Obama administration to delay a decision on its construction until after the 2012 elections.