Nixon backs plans for new oil pipeline

Gov. Jay Nixon enthusiastically endorsed plans Tuesday for a new Midwestern oil pipeline, emphasizing its potential for thousands of construction jobs while drawing a contrast with President Barack Obama’s recent rejection of a separate cross-country pipeline.

Nixon embraced plans by Enbridge Inc. to build a new 600-mile pipeline from Flanagan, Ill., to Cushing, Okla., that would follow an existing pipeline route running diagonally from northeast to west-central Missouri. The company is still soliciting commitments from oil shippers but hopes to begin construction in the middle of 2013 and complete work on the $1.9 billion project a year later.

Enbridge, a Calgary, Canada-based company with its U.S. operations headquartered in Houston, sent letters detailing its plans last week to elected officials and landowners along the path of the proposed pipeline, said company spokesman Kevin O’Connor. He said the company wasn’t seeking official endorsements.

But Nixon, a Democrat up for election this year, responded quickly with a Tuesday news conference announcing his support in rural Shelby County — one of 11 Missouri counties the pipeline would cross.

“We believe this proposal has tremendous potential to boost Missouri’s economy, create construction jobs across our state and brighten America’s energy future,” Nixon said in a telephone conference call with reporters.

The governor pledged that his administration would work smoothly to provide whatever state permits are necessary.

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