HOUSTON—TransCanada, the company seeking to build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, is close to submitting a new permit application for the project, a TransCanada executive said on Tuesday.
“I would expect we’ll be resubmitting it in a matter of weeks,” Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada’s president for energy and oil pipelines, told reporters after speaking at a major energy conference in Houston.
President Obama rejected a permit for TransCanada’s 1,700-mile project in January after congressional Republicans gave him a 60-day deadline to act on it in December. Obama said the deadline did not allow adequate time to review the environmental impacts of the pipeline that would carry oil from Canada’s tar sands to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
TransCanada announced last week it would start building the southern part of the pipeline from Oklahoma to the Texas coast and resubmit its request for a permit to build the northern part from Alberta to Oklahoma. Pourbaix said on Tuesday that TransCanada would begin construction on the southern part of the pipeline in late spring or early summer and begin operating it sometime in 2013.
When Obama rejected the pipeline, he said it was because of the opposition to the pipeline’s route around an ecologically sensitive area of Nebraska. TransCanada is now in the process of finding a new route around that area of the state. Pourbaix said his company will announce new potential routes in the next few weeks.
The Senate may vote on legislation this week that would mandate approval of the project, but it’s unlikely to become law. Pourbaix said on Tuesday that TransCanada is focused on resubmitting its permit application and not on the political debate in Congress over the pipeline.