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US Can Be Energy Independent: Pipeline Exec | March 06, 2012 | 01:00 PM EST

The U.S. can be energy independent in fewer than 10 years if it keeps developing domestic oil and shale gas fields, a TransCanada official told CNBC Tuesday.

Alexander Pourbaix, president, energy and oil pipelines for TransCanada , said his company is already moving quickly to build the approved southern portion of what had originally been the $7 billion Keystone pipeline between western Canada through the U.S. Midwest to Houston.

He said he expects approval of an alternate route of the northern part of the pipeline, which would take it through Nebraska, by this fall.

The already approved portion between Cushing, Okla., and Houston “will go a long, long way” toward alleviating an oil “bottleneck” and bring down the price differential between Brent and West Texas crude, he added.

Pourbaix said his company is working with the governor of Nebraska on an alternate route for the northern part of the pipeline, and sounded bitter when talking about the environmental outcry that lead to the Obama administration failing to approvethe original, long-delayed route in January.

“Maybe the environmentalists are using the sandhills [of Nebraska] as a cause celebre, but they were really trying to block the development of the Canadian oil sands,” he said. “By fall, we should have a fully approved route around the sandhills.”

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