LINCOLN — TransCanada Inc. submitted its proposed new route Wednesday for the Keystone XL pipeline that would avoid Nebraska's Sand Hills.
The company submitted the 51-page document, obtained by The World-Herald, to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality. It shows a preferred corridor and three alternative corridors that were studied.
The company's proposal came one day after Gov. Dave Heineman signed into law a bill that will allow an expedited state environmental review of the pipeline to resume.
The review was halted in January after the Obama administration rejected a federal permit for the 1,700-mile, $1.7 billion pipeline, saying there wasn't adequate time to review the project before a congressionally imposed deadline in February.
The company was within days of proposing a new plan in January when the Department of Environmental Quality review was shut down.
TransCanada has said it would take about 100 miles of extra pipeline to avoid the Sand Hills.
The preferred route outlined by the company would head southeast just north of the Niobrara River in Keya Paha County, then run parallel to U.S. 20 about eight miles to the north of the highway.
Northeast of Neligh, Neb., the pipeline would turn south, following a path that parallels Nebraska Highway 14 to near Central City, Neb., where it would rejoin the original Keystone XL route.
If the proposed corridor is approved, TransCanada has said it will begin to pinpoint an exact route and begin right-of-way acquisition discussions with landowners.
The preferred corridor would bypass Boyd County, where residents rose up about three decades ago to block a proposed low-level radioactive waste storage facility. Some concerns have been expressed that a crude-oil pipeline would also not get a friendly welcome in that rural county.
Some opponents of the pipeline have objected to the rerouting, saying it should be farther to the east and parallel an already operating Keystone pipeline.
Jane Kleeb of BOLD Nebraska said TransCanada's new route would still cross portions of the Sand Hills that aren't included on the state's map, as well as portions of the underlying Ogallala Aquifer, a major source of water for drinking, irrigation and livestock in the state.
“If TransCanada cared about our state, landowners, water and Sand Hills, they would have proposed a safer, more responsible route instead of trying to play games with landowners,” Kleeb said in a statement.
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