By Ricky O’Bannon, Stillwater NewsPress
Enid News and Eagle
Representatives from TransCanada said Thursday they were pleased by President Barack Obama’s call to expedite the southern section of the Keystone XL pipeline.
“Obviously, I’m very happy to hear the president’s comments,” said Robert Jones at a press conference following Obama’s remarks.
Jones, who is vice president for the Keystone pipeline project for TransCanada, said the company expected to start construction on the southern portion of the pipeline by the middle of this year. The project should take a year to complete.
While the southern section does not require a presidential permit, Jones said the company has to work with the Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Obama’s directive to expedite the project would apply to these agencies.
Jones also said the company is working on a new route for the northern portion of the pipeline that avoids the Nebraska Sandhills region that was a source of environmental concerns. The TransCanada representative said he hoped a permit would be issued and construction could start mid-2013.
That section will require a presidential permit, and Obama spoke briefly Thursday on the project.
“The northern portion of it, we’re going to have to review properly to make sure that the health and safety of the American people are protected,” Obama told a crowd at a TransCanada pipe yard near Cushing. “That’s common sense.”
Obama has heard a lot of opposition after his decision to reject the first Keystone XL northern permit, following concerns from Nebraska’s governor and environmental groups.
During Thursday’s press conference, Jones was asked if he would call the president a friend of the Keystone project.
“I think that’s what we heard,” he said.
O’Bannon writes for the Stillwater NewsPress.