The Keystone XL expansion would build additional pipeline through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska before joining up with existing Keystone pipeline infrastructure. It would then extend south of the existing pipeline to continue through Oklahoma and as far south as Houston, Texas. The delay is intended to examine possible alternate routes that might have less environmental impact. Environmentalists are fighting to stop the pipeline from being built in the Ogallala Aquifer of the Sandhills area in Nebraska, citing a concern about the impact of an oil spill there.
An alternate route could completely bypass this trouble area and avoid the risk of an oil spill in a major water source. Currently, control over the project is in federal hands, but Nebraska is pushing for legislation to allow them more of a say in how the pipeline is constructed through the state. Senator Ken Haar of Nebraska has proposed a bill that would create exclusion zones where pipe greater than eight inches in diameter could not be laid, helping to keep the pipeline out of the Sandhills and other areas.
Whatever the intentions behind the delay, taking more time to examine possibilities is a good thing when it comes to the health of our environment.