The Slatest

Nebraska Commission Clears Final Regulatory Hurdle for Keystone XL Pipeline

Activists hold up a banner during a “pipeline resistance training camp” in the San Juan Islands off the U.S.-Canada border on Aug. 26.

Tim Exton/AFP/Getty Images

Despite Thursday’s large oil spill from the Keystone pipeline in South Dakota, Nebraska regulators on Monday approved the $8 billion Keystone XL Pipeline, clearing a last major hurdle for the project. The move does not guarantee the project’s completion, as some opponents of the pipeline will likely challenge the plans in court, but it does resolve the final regulatory question of the project, according to the Associated Press.

One hitch: The ruling from the Nebraska Public Service Commission requires an alternative route to TransCanada’s preferred path—the one already approved by the federal government. Nebraska’s decision pushes the pipeline extension farther east in the state.

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The expansion would complete the 1,179-mile pipeline built to transport oil from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. The route would cross Nebraska as well as parts of Montana and South Dakota.

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According to the AP, the commission was not allowed to factor in safety or environmental risks, as those are considered federal responsibilities, and therefore during deliberation it ignored last week’s 210,000-gallon spill in South Dakota.

TransCanada has not announced a final decision about whether the project will still go forward, although the AP reports the company says it is operating under the assumption it will. Pipeline opponents are already planning an appeal, the AP reports. The head of Bold Alliance, an organization opposed to the pipeline, told the AP that because the route approved by the Nebraska commission diverges from the one approved by the federal government, a whole new federal review could be required in a process that could last years.

The Keystone XL Pipeline was first rejected in 2015 by President Obama, who raised concerns about its potential environmental effects. President Trump reversed that decision in March.

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