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Keystone Oil Pipeline Caught Up In Debate

December 20, 2011, 9:57 PM by Don Jorgensen

Keystone Oil Pipeline Caught Up In Debate
SIOUX FALLS, SD - Caught in the middle of payroll tax debate in Washington is the TransCanada Keystone XL oil pipeline.

It's a project that would cut through western South Dakota and pump oil from Canada all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

The President wanted the pipeline delayed until 2013, but if the Senate gets its way, the President will have to make a decision on the pipeline within 60 days and some say that could kill the project all together.

The Obama administration wanted more time to study the environmental impacts of the Keystone Pipeline. But since Republicans attached the project to the payroll tax credit, the clock is now ticking. 

"I think it's a stunt that's going to backfire on them," Matt McGovern of the National Wildlife Federation said. 

The National Wildlife Federation doesn't want to see the project move forward. 

"The National Wildlife Federation has opposed the project because of the threats to the land and water supplies and also the use of eminent domain against South Dakota landowners," McGovern said.

Republicans wanted to fast track the project because they say it could help create nearly 20,000 construction jobs across the country. But opponents say forcing the President to make a decision within 60 days will ultimately delay the project even more or even kill it.

"Federal law is pretty clear that a large project like this, they have to study the impacts and study the routes and 60 days just isn't enough time when the route actually hasn't been decided yet," McGovern said. 

The reason it hasn't been decided is because they want to reroute the pipeline around sensitive areas like the Sandhills of Nebraska.

TransCanada issued this statement to KELOLAND News for this story:  "We continue to collaborate with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, the State of Nebraska and the Department of State in defining a route in Nebraska that avoids the Sandhills and to move the final approval for the pipeline forward."

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