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Nebraska Governor OKs New Keystone Pipeline Route

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heinenman announced today that his state had completed an evaluation of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline proposal.

In a letter to President Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Heinenman said they were satisfied with a new route that avoids the environmentally sensitive Sand Hills so the state has approved the route.

Heinenman said the decision was made after soliciting public comments and analyzing the "environmental, economic and social" impacts of the pipeline.

Heinenman said that TransCanada had agreed to "mitigation measures," including an "Emergency Response Plan for a crude oil release" and an agreement to pay for "any spill associated" with the pipeline.

If you remember, the Keystone pipeline has become a rallying cry for both environmentalists and Republicans.

Environmentalists have urged President Obama to reject the project because it would be detrimental to fragile soils in the state, while Republicans have criticized the administration for delaying a project they say would bring jobs and more energy independence.

The ball, Heinenman said in his letter, is now in the court of the State Department, which will ultimately decide on the fate of the pipeline.

If you remember, a year ago, the Obama administration denied TransCanada's permit to build the pipeline. The State Department cited insufficient time to review the environmental impact, but encouraged TransCanada to reapply.

The AP adds:

"The pipeline has faced strong resistance in Nebraska from a coalition of landowners and environmental groups who say it would contaminate the Ogallala aquifer, a massive groundwater supply.

"Canadian pipeline developer TransCanada and some workers' unions say the project is safe and will create thousands of jobs."

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