Alternative Keystone XL route OKed in Nebraska

Alternative Keystone XL route OKed in Nebraska

At top are other pipeline foes, including Art Tanderup and Jenni Harrington, before the meeting.

The crowd in Lincoln after the PSC's ruling. He says the vote, "opens up a whole new bag of issues that we can raise".

"We anticipate the support for the project to be substantially similar to that which existed when we first applied for the Keystone pipeline permit", Girling said in a 9 November analyst call. It said in a statement that during its testimony in the PSC's public hearings, TransCanada had "argued that building along an alternative route would be unworkable, and will now need additional easements if the company tries to proceed with the project".

There are still unresolved legal issues revolving around the pipeline.

A longtime backer of the pipeline, State Sen.

The 3-2 vote by the Nebraska Public Service Commission helps clear the way for the pipeline linking Canada's Alberta oil sands to refineries in the United States.

Although TransCanada proposed the mainline alternative to show state regulators an option that would take advantage of existing Keystone infrastructure, it later concluded that simply laying Keystone XL along Keystone's original path was not possible.

While the approved alternative route would avoid the Sandhills, it would still cross small parts of the Ogallala aquifer, the main source of drinking and irrigation water in Nebraska and much of the Great Plains.

That said, the four-member regulatory panel didn't exactly give a blanket approval for the Keystone XL pipeline.

TransCanada said it won't decide until December whether to go forward with the project.

The company did not respond Monday to emailed questions about how the route change might affect that decision.

Environmental activists, American Indian tribes and some landowners have fought the project since it was proposed by TransCanada Corp in 2008.

"So we'll have to wait and see how that all plays out", Ricketts said. Voting no were Commissioners Crystal Rhoades of Omaha and Mary Ridder of Callaway. Will Keystone XL actually be built?

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"It's going to be an incredible pipeline", he said. The new route also crosses fewer miles of the migration route of the endangered whooping crane.

Should pipeline opponents appeal the Commission's decision it could eventually end up in the Nebraska Supreme Court.

TransCanada wants to build the almost 1,200-mile Keystone XL pipeline from Canada through several states, including South Dakota. But under Nebraska law, the state Public Service Commission is not allowed to consider pipeline safety and spill risks when deciding on a permit.

This week, TransCanada is also dealing with the cleanup from a 5,000-barrel leak on the Keystone Pipeline discovered last Friday in Marshall County in northeastern South Dakota. Also not to be considered was whether the project was financially feasible.

"Nebraskans are counting on that", Johnson wrote.

While it approved the pipeline work, the commission ruled that the line should be located closer to TransCanada's existing line in the state to minimize environmental risk and danger to local species. Since 2011, when the Obama administration first rejected the project, exports from those countries have fallen by roughly 0.9m b/d, and there is little likelihood of a recovery anytime soon.

After Donald Trump took office this January, he resurrected the Keystone XL.

Two commissioners, one Republican and one Democrat, dissented.

The commission approved an alternative plan that circumvents the ecologically fragile Sand Hills area and tracks more closely with the Keystone pipeline already in place.

But Neidig added he expected few landowners to oppose it.

Monday's meeting lasted seven minutes. One small boy held a sign reading, "I can't drink oil".

It has been almost 10 years since TransCanada first proposed the project, though, and the landscape has dramatically changed in the meantime. It spilled 5,000 barrels of oil - almost 800,000 litres - that leeched through the ground to the surface. The spill, the latest in a series of leaks on the existing pipeline, raised concerns about other potential spills, economic impact, and climate change.

Some major oil companies have pulled out of the tar sands region in recent months due to the depressed prices and worldwide glut of oil, plus the higher cost of turning the tar sands into synthetic crude.

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