On November 10, 2011, the U.S. State Department announced during a press briefing that it was delaying its decision on the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline in order to assess other pathways through Nebraska. The 1700 mile crude oil pipeline which would run from the Alberta Oil Sands region in Canada and ultimately terminate at refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast would also traverse over the shallow water Ogallala aquifer in Nebraska’s Sand Hills region.
While the State Department released the final Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed oil pipeline on August 26, 2011, since that time opposition to the proposed route has expanded including Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman (R) due to the proposed route over the Ogallala aquifer. The Nebraska Governor had already called a special session of the Nebraska legislature for the crafting of pipeline siting/approval legislation that will be further vetted during the week of November 14th. The State Department is now to be looking at alternative routes of the Keystone pipeline that would avoid or minimize impacts to the Nebraska Sand Hills region. The alternative pipeline route review will be conducted as a supplemental environmental impact statement and the State Department’s final decision on the proposed pipeline is estimated to conclude sometime following the 2012 presidential election.