Nebraska approves plan for Keystone pipeline expansion

Gladys Abbott
November 23, 2017

Nebraska's decision overrode the objections of environmental groups, Native American tribes and landowners along the pipeline's prospective route. "They put all their eggs in the proposed route basket, so to speak, and that was denied", Jorde said of TransCanada's strategy.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris of Montana disagreed, saying members of the organizations live in the states through which the pipeline would be built and "highly value and have studied the ... protected specials whose habitat the Keystone XL Pipeline threatens".

The decision came just days after a spill on TransCanada's existing Keystone line in South Dakota on Thursday sparked new attacks by environmentalists who pointed to the event as something the state could expect if the project is approved.

TransCanada said it is reviewing this route and will determine by next month whether or not to continue to build this project in the state. National environmental groups opposed the project on the grounds it would prod more tar sands development, the dirtiest source of oil, according to several authoritative studies, and pour millions more tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. She noted that the State Department, the lead federal permitting agency, did not analyze the alternative route.

Keystone XL would expand the existing Keystone pipeline network that went into service in July 2010.

While TransCanada has promoted the pipeline project as a jobs creator, Rhoades said that "there was no evidence provided that any jobs created by the construction of this project would be given to Nebraska residents".

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Two commissioners, one Republican and one Democrat, dissented. Pipeline transportation is also cheaper than rail.

The pipeline may also be more commercially viable given declining heavy oil production in Mexico and ongoing instability in Venezuela, said Zachary Rogers, a refining and oil markets research analyst at Wood Mackenzie, said in a statement.

The 3-2 decision was the final regulatory hurdle for TransCanada's proposed 1,179-mile (1,897-kilometer) pipeline that would connect oil sands in Canada to refineries in Texas and elsewhere.

The Obama administration refused to permit Keystone XL in 2015, in large part over environmental concerns.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission on Monday approved a route through the state for the project after Nebraska landowners fought a years-long legal battle with TransCanada. "Along with the Paris climate agreement withdrawal and the rescinding of the Clean Power Plan, the green light granted to Keystone XL in January that made this Nebraska decision consequential is a signature energy achievement of the Trump administration". Approval was quickly granted. The current pipeline runs through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas and extends east into Missouri and IL.

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