TransCanada says it plans to move ahead with its Keystone XL Pipeline project, despite setbacks in recent months.
In a Feb. 27 letter to the State Dept., the Calgary-based company said that it planned to build the oil-pipeline portion from Cushing, Okla., to the Gulf Coast, which does not need a presidential permit to begin.
Company officials said that the segment from Cushing to the Gulf Coast would cost approximately $2.3 billion and be in service by mid to late 2013.
Moreover, the company told the State Dept. that it plans to re-apply for a presidential—or cross-border—permit in the near future for the segment of the Keystone that runs from the U.S.-Canada border in Montana through Steele City, Neb. TransCanada says it will supplement the application with an alternative route in Nebraska once that route is selected.
TransCanada has been working with the state of Nebraska to determine an alternative route for Keystone XL that avoids the Sandhills, after the State Dept. issued a notice to delay a decision on a presidential permit until an adjusted route that avoids the Sandhills was developed.
In January, President Obama rejected TransCanada’s permit application to build the 1,600-mile pipeline to transport crude oil from Alberta to the Gulf Coast , saying that the State Dept. did not have enough time to perform an environmental review. Since then, some Republicans in Congress have tried to advance legislation that would enable the project to move forward.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement that the President “welcomed” the news that TransCanada would proceed with a segment of the pipeline.
Carney said: “As the President made clear in January, we support the company’s interest in proceeding with this project, which will help address the bottleneck of oil in Cushing that has resulted in large part from increased domestic oil production, currently at an eight year high. Moving oil from the Midwest to the world-class, state-of-the-art refineries on the Gulf Coast will modernize our infrastructure, create jobs, and encourage American energy production. We look forward to working with TransCanada to ensure that it is built in a safe, responsible and timely manner, and we commit to take every step possible to expedite the necessary Federal permits.”
But environmental groups were furious. Michael Brune, Sierra Club executive director, said in a statement: “TransCanada is hell-bent on bringing tar sands, the world’s dirtiest oil, through America to reach foreign markets. They can’t wait for a fair, scientific environmental review they know their pipeline would fail. So we see dirty political tricks, dirty PR tricks, and, now, this dirty trick to build the pipeline piecemeal.”