Senators Mike Johanns and Ben Nelson had their say, now TransCanada has responded with its own letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton refuting Johanns’ claim that more research is needed before the Keystone XL Pipeline project can be approved. One week after Nelson wrote to Clinton urging her to make a scientific — not political — decision, Johanns asked the State Department in a Nov. 1 letter for an additional Environmental Impact Study that would examine alternative routes for the nearly 2,000-mile oil pipeline. Johanns proposed routing it around — rather than over — the Ogallala Aquifer, Nebraska’s largest source of drinking and irrigation water according to the U.S. Geological Survey. TransCanada President and CEO Russell Girling responded on Nov. 3, writing that the current EIS “fully takes into account all reasonable alternatives and satisfies the Department’s obligations and the public’s interests in that regard.” Girling went on to say that Johanns’ suggestion that the new pipeline run parallel to the current Keystone Pipeline, operational since June 2010, would increase the environmental impact elsewhere by adding 20 percent more pipe and affecting 3,000 additional acres of land in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Johanns fired back in a follow up letter to Clinton on Nov. 6, reiterating the need for an additional impact study. “I find it striking that TransCanada contends the U.S. government should approve this route because it impacts fewer Canadian landowners and less Canadian land. The United States Department of State should examine the environmental impact in our country. The shortest route through the U.S. has not yet been examined and the State Department has an obligation to do so,” Johanns says. On Oct. 27, an anonymous source in the State Department told Reuters that a decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline is still months away. The State Department must grant final approval on the project because the pipeline crosses the international border between the United States and Canada. Earlier in October, BOLD Nebraska, a non-partisan political activist group, filed a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission over two $2,500 campaign contributions Heineman and state Attorney General John Bruning received from TransCanada. Heineman and Bruning returned the money saying they were unaware the contributions from the foreign based company may have violated federal law.

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