Heineman sent a letter to President Barack Obama today confirming that he would allow the controversial project to proceed in his state. The pipeline would transport extra heavy crude from the oil sands of Alberta, Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.
Shawn Howard is a spokesman for pipeline developer TransCanada.
“The only part of the route that needed to be approved still was Nebraska, so the decision by Governor Heineman today to provide that approval is an important step. Montana and South Dakota has already provided their route approval. So now what we do is we move back to the State Department where they’re looking at our presidential permit application, and then have to make a decision on the national interest determination for Keystone XL.”
The pipeline has faced strong resistance in Nebraska from a coalition of landowners and environmental groups, who claim it would contaminate the Ogallala aquifer, a massive groundwater supply. TransCanada and some labor unions say the project is safe and will create thousands of jobs.
The original route would have run the pipeline through a region of erodible, grass-covered sand dunes. The new route skirts that area.