Nebraska approves TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline

Andrew Cummings
November 20, 2017

Nebraska regulators on Monday approved an alternative route for the Keystone XL pipeline through the state, clearing the final regulatory hurdle for the project green-lighted by President Trump earlier this year.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said Monday the provincial government is "very pleased" that Nebraska has approved the Keystone XL pipeline route. But Daugaard says he recognizes some residents are disappointed by Nebraska's decision.

As CBS News' Roxana Saberi reported Sunday evening, what appears from the air to be a small spot staining South Dakota farmland is actually an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil that gushed from a leak in the existing Keystone pipeline. Permits along Keystone XL's path have already been granted in Canada, Montana and South Dakota.

Pipeline opponents have lined parts of the proposed route with obstacles, including trees, solar panels, sacred corn from the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska and a barn powered by renewable energy.

Environmental groups lobbied against the Keystone XL, expressing concerns that the pipeline will rely on Canadian oil sands - a dirtier form of oil that releases more greenhouse gases than standard oil extraction.

The commission's approval was not for TransCanada's preferred route, but for a slightly longer alternative that could prove more hard and costly to build.

Pipeline opponents already had planned to appeal the commission's decision in court.

Ken Winston is an attorney representing environmental groups. Some opponents may try to physically block construction and have likened their resistance to the activists who protested the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock, North Dakota.

"We are going to fight like hell to make sure this pipeline never gets built", said Jane Kleeb, the head of anti-pipeline Bold Nebraska, a political advocacy group.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission voted on the long-delayed project Monday, though the decision could still be challenged in court. But businesses, unions and Republican lawmakers have largely supported the pipeline, which would move roughly 830,000 barrels of oil daily, as a jobs creator.

The simplest choice was a yes-or-no vote on TransCanada's "preferred route" through a dozen Nebraska counties.

TransCanada Corp.'s plan to build a almost 1,200-mile (1,931-kilometer) pipeline faces intense opposition from environmental groups, Native American tribes and some landowners. It was unclear whether the company will decide to pursue the project as it considers the commercial viability. They and other supporters of the pipeline argue that it will lower fuel prices and create jobs. President Donald Trump issued a federal permit allowing for the project in March, reversing President Barack Obama administration's rejection of it.

The project has faced a barrage of criticism from environmental activists and some landowners for almost a decade. This AP graphic shows the Keystone XL pipeline in red.

"We continue to urge Canadian decision makers to follow this example so we can have access to global markets from Canadian ports, supporting good Canadian jobs".

It was the largest Keystone oil spill to date in South Dakota, said Brian Walsh, spokesman for the state's Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

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