Keystone XL pipeline in jeopardy following Nebraska decision

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Regulators in Nebraska rejected a request to reroute the Keystone XL oil pipeline through their state, causing a setback for the project.

On Tuesday, the Nebraska Public Service Commission voted 5-0 to deny a request from TransCanada, the company proposing the $8 billion project, to revise the approved path of the pipeline.

In November, the PSC authorized a route for the pipeline through Nebraska. The route was not the path preferred by TransCanada, causing speculation that the company might withdraw from the project entirely.

TransCanada then filed formal motions requesting that the PSC amend its permit and approve the company’s preferred route, but Nebraska officials refused.

“The commission finds the motion for reconsideration should be denied,” the panel wrote in its decision.

The PSA’s denial marks the end of the approval process in Nebraska, leaving TransCanada to decide whether to abandon the project or continue by constructing the pipeline along a path they do not prefer.

TransCanada has iterated its commitment to the project, yet said it will carefully assess its way forward.

“Following today’s decision, we will take the time to review the decision and determine the appropriate next steps for the project in Nebraska. More importantly, Keystone XL remains a viable project with strong commercial support,” said company spokesman Terry Cunha.

“The project continues to have widespread support of the U.S. and Canadian federal governments as well as state and provincial governments in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Saskatchewan and Alberta. President Trump and his administration continue to actively support Keystone XL and we expect to secure final federal permits in early 2018. We remain committed to the Keystone XL project.”

Environmentalists lauded the PSA’s decision, asserting that it should prompt TransCanada to scrap the Keystone project.

“We are pleased the commission denied TransCanada’s motion to amend their application. This should send a message to TransCanada and their investors that Nebraskans don’t want their tar sands pipeline,” said Ken Winston, an attorney with the Sierra Club.

“TransCanada should do the right thing for once and withdraw their application. If they choose to appeal, we will continue to fight the Keystone XL tar sands export pipeline until it is finally stopped,” Winston added.

Should TransCanada decide to move ahead with the approved route through Nebraska, it is expected that the State Department will be required to conduct additional environmental studies, possibly postponing construction for several years.

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