No major objections from State Dept. on pipeline - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

No major objections from State Dept. on pipeline

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Posted By:  KLKN Newsroom

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The State Department says Canadian tar sands are likely to be developed, regardless of whether the U.S. approves a plan to pipe oil from western Canada to refineries in Texas.

The report does not make a recommendation for or against the project but does not raise major objections.

A draft environmental report acknowledges that development of tar sands in Alberta would create greenhouse gases but makes clear that other methods to transport the oil also pose a risk to the environment.

But it says if the pipeline gets blocked, rail companies will make up the difference and transport the oil anyway. The report also says a pipeline spill is "very unlikely" to affect the Ogallala Aquifer.

Jane Kleeb with Bold Nebraska says the State Department is only looking at a spill of 47-thousand gallons, which is an inadequate spill assessment.

"While to the average person this may sound like a lot, you have to remember that this pipeline is something like almost a million barrels. In just a pin hole size leak - which TransCanada says their sensors can't detect - would spill 697,000 gallons a day," Kleeb said.

Sen. Mike Johanns responded to impact study with this statement: "This is an important project because it creates jobs and increases our nation's energy supply. Nebraska has approved the route, the State Department has previously examined the route and now this project should move forward. There is no reason for President Obama or the State Department to delay a project that is so clearly in the nation's best interest."

The State Department was required to conduct a new environmental analysis after the pipeline's operator, Calgary-based TransCanada, changed the project's route though Nebraska. The Obama administration blocked the project last year because of concerns that the original route would have jeopardized environmentally sensitive land in the Sand Hills region.

There is now 45-day public comment period. Then the State Department will have to determine if the pipeline is in America's national interest. President Obama will have to give the final stamp of approval.

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