The time for jubilation about the delaying of approval for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is already over. As the LA Times, Reuters and others have reported, the project's developer, TransCanada, has already announced a slight route change for the project as it passes through Nebraska.
The new route will avoid the Sandhills, so as to avoid the areas where the water table is closest to the surface.A TransCanada spokesperson told LA Times that he hoped the change in route would speed up the State Department re-evaluation of the project's environmental impact, adding that the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality could complete their review of the new route within six months.
Ranching groups in Nebraska, which had opposed the pipeline because of concerns about pollution of the Ogallala aquifer, called the route change a "huge victory", but noted that they would still stand with environmentalists demanding the project be rejected, no matter the route.
After all, no matter the route the pipeline takes, the carbon content of the oil it will transport is still higher than conventional oil sources -- as well as enabling further extraction of one of the largest remaining stores of fossil fuel carbon on the planet.
Scientists such as NASA's James Hansen believe that leaving the tar sands in the ground is crucial if we are to avoid dangerous climate change, by keeping global temperature rise below 2°C and returning atmospheric carbon levels to 350ppm.