The filing respects the NDEQ’s timelines and the overall regulatory process for determining a re-route in Nebraska, as requested by the US Department of State (DoS) in November, 2011.
TransCanada's President and Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling said "Based on feedback from NDEQ and the public, we have refined our proposed routing of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
“The preferred alternative route in this Supplemental Environmental Report (SER) was developed based on extensive feedback from Nebraskans and reflects our shared desire to minimise the disturbance of land and sensitive resources in the state."
The preferred alternative route and additional information presented in the SER addresses feedback from over 670 Nebraskans who took part in open-house discussions, hundreds of additional comments submitted to the NDEQ, and direct conversations with landowners along the pipeline corridor.Article continues below…
In response to comments regarding the proposed route TransCanada submitted in April, 2012, that route has now been modified. In addition to various minor refinements, the SER identifies three significant route modifications:
1) Northern Alternative: Although the NDEQ defined areas to avoid that were characterised as sandhills, numerous comments from landowners and the NDEQ indicated that there are additional areas that exhibit similar characteristics to the sandhills, even though they are not identified this way in existing literature or agency databases. These areas include features similar to sand dunes and areas with sandy, erodible soils, with a thin organic layer of topsoil. The new re-route minimises impact on these features.
2) Clarks Alternative: During the public comment period, and through NDEQ review, Nebraskans suggested that Keystone avoid routing the pipeline west of the town of Clarks because the route would cross an area up gradient of the Clarks well-head protection area (WHPA) and where the depth to groundwater is shallow and is the source of the town's water supply. The re-route is now down gradient from the well-head protection area includes fewer areas of wind erodible soils and crosses fewer sloped areas.
3) Western Alternative: After the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was published in August, 2011, the city of Western was issued with a new WHPA that extended further west, overlapping the FEIS pipeline route. In response, an alternative western route was developed, moving the pipeline out of the WHPA.
The report was also submitted to the US DoS in connection with an application for a Presidential Permit for Keystone XL.
"TransCanada has been working with the Nebraska DEQ, landowners, engineering surveyors and environmental survey crews since we presented our initial route analysis in April," added Mr Girling. "Both the route identified in April and the current preferred alternative route can support the safe construction and operation of the pipeline." Further highlights of the preferred alternative route include:
- The route covers approximately 338 km of the Keystone XL route in Nebraska and increases the length of the pipeline in the state by 32 km.
- The Nebraska DEQ and other state and federal agencies developed a map that accurately defines the sandhills region. The re-route respects this map and avoids the sandhills area
- The route included in the SER crosses fewer miles of threatened and endangered species habitat, fewer streams and rivers and considerably fewer miles of severely wind erodible soils
- Two well-head protection areas have been avoided.
Outside of the preferred alternative route area, environmental and technical studies have already been completed and reviewed by the US DoS for areas where the route of the Keystone XL Project has not changed since the FEIS was issued in August, 2011.
In addition to submitting the SER to the NDEQ, TransCanada provided an environmental report to the DoS on 7 September, 2012. The environmental report is required as part of the DoS’ review of the company's Presidential Permit application.