On Tuesday January 28, Secretary of US Department of TransportationRay LaHood announced departure from his position in the Administration’s second term. A successor has not been selected to oversee federal highway, air, railroad, maritime and other transportation administration functions the department oversees. Secretary LaHood has chosen to stay until a successor has been chosen and confirmed by the US Senate.
On Wednesday January 23, 53 Senators sent a letter to the Administration urging the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline project with regards to items addressed in a letter sent Tuesday. On Tuesday January 22, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman sent a letter to the Administration approving the Keystone XL Pipeline project in the state of Nebraska. The accepted route avoids the environmentally sensitive Nebraska Sandhills but does cross a considerable groundwater supply, the Ogallala Aquifer. The sandhills and aquifer have been identified as key obstacles in the process of approval for the pipeline project which has drawn strong opposition in Nebraska from a combination of landowners and environmental groups. The route now skirts the sandhills and includes protection from contamination of the Ogallala Aquifer. The US Department of State is expected to decide within the next few months whether to grant aPresidential Permit for the project to move forward and allow Canadian pipeline developerTransCanada to build the 1,179-mile pipeline.