Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman has announced that he will call a special legislative session to consider rerouting the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would carry tar sands crude oil 1,700 miles from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Pipeline proponents have said the project is necessary for energy security, while others say it is not only a threat to the environment, but won't provide the jobs promised and the oil has been intended for export all along.
The Governor and other Nebraska officials have been critical, according to the Sierra Club, of the State Department's environmental review process—the legitimacy of which has been called into doubt because of a revolving door between TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline, and the Obama administration.
Heineman is disappointed in the department's failure to consider alternative routes for the pipeline that would reduce the risk to critical water supplies. He does not, however, disapprove of the pipeline itself, according to Reuters, which reports that Heineman wants TransCanada to change the pipeline route away from Nebraska's Sand Hills region, which sits atop the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the largest sources of water for farms in the central U.S.
The Sierra Club's director Michael Brune praised the governor's move. "Tar sands oil is more dangerous to transport, more difficult to clean up, and releases more toxic chemicals and carbon pollution than conventional oil. Tar sands oil is the dirtiest oil on Earth."
He said, “Spills from the proposed pipeline are not a question of if, but when. Oil spills in America’s heartland could contaminate drinking water supplies for millions of people, damage the livelihood of American farmers and ranchers, and destroy some of the nation’s most beautiful, biologically important ecosystems."