LINCOLN — Changing the route of the Keystone XL pipeline through Nebraska will delay the start of construction on the controversial project through the state, if the project obtains federal approval, an official said Thursday.
Corey Goulet, who was recently promoted to vice president in charge of the pipeline project by TransCanada, said that rerouting the 36-inch pipeline will require additional engineering work, land purchases for four new pump stations in the state and negotiations for new easements.
Because of that, if the Keystone XL receives state and federal approval early next year as some expect, construction work would not begin in Nebraska until late 2013 or early 2014, Goulet said.
By contrast, construction would begin immediately after federal approval in Montana and South Dakota, where easement agreements with landowners are mostly complete, he said.
Construction crews building TransCanada's first pipeline across Nebraska, the Keystone, created business for local hotels, restaurants and other enterprises, as well as a few hundred jobs for heavy equipment operators and other workers.
Goulet said that at the peak of construction, 2,300 workers will be on the job in Nebraska. He estimated that 25 percent to 50 percent of those workers could be Nebraskans.
Construction work in the state would take about a year, he said.
Opponents of the project have disputed the job totals and point out that the construction jobs are temporary and few permanent jobs will be created by the pipeline.
Goulet, 49, has been with TransCanada for 15 years in its Calgary office. He replaces Robert Jones, who was promoted. Goulet's previous post was as a vice president overseeing TransCanada's natural gas pipeline systems.
Goulet said he sees his new job as a “communications challenge” and is convinced that the Keystone XL will be the safest pipeline ever built in the United States, because of extra safety steps being taken by TransCanada and the intense scrutiny of the project.
Nebraska is reviewing TransCanada's newest proposal to reroute the Keystone XL around the Sand Hills and similar areas of sandy soils. A draft evaluation report from the state is expected by mid-October, and there will be a public hearing in late November or early December.
Gov. Dave Heineman has said he will make his final decision on the project around the end of the year. The U.S. State Department would then determine whether the project should proceed.
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