Alternative Keystone XL route gets approved in Nebraska

Alternative Keystone XL route gets approved in Nebraska

Alternative Keystone XL route gets approved in Nebraska

Lincoln - Nebraska regulators approved a route for TransCanada Corporation's Keystone XL pipeline through the state on Monday, lifting the last big regulatory obstacle for the long-delayed project that US President Donald Trump wants built.

Alberta province premier Rachel Notley cheered the commission's decision, saying the pipeline "will mean greater energy security for all North Americans".

President Donald Trump, who took office in January, is a vociferous supporter of Keystone XL, emphasizing the project's economic impact and enhancement of United States energy security.

Mr. Obama eventually denied a border-crossing permit in 2015, citing climate change, but Mr. Trump reversed that decision this year.

Sen. Mike Rounds says he supports Keystone XL and other pipelines, but says he's concerned about an estimated 210,000-gallon oil spill last week from the existing Keystone pipeline in South Dakota.

The project has faced a barrage of criticism from environmental activists and some landowners for almost a decade.

The alternative route would run farther north than the originally proposed route.

Omaha attorney David Domina, who's been fighting construction of the Keystone XL for more than five years, represented more than 90 landowners in the case, many of whom had fought the project to a standstill two years ago. The ruling is also nearly certain to face legal challenges, and is likely to end up at the Nebraska Supreme Court.

The proposed line, running about 1,899km from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Nebraska, has been controversial since it was first advocated almost a decade ago, with environmentalists making it into a symbol of their broader fight against fossil fuels and global warming. After years of lobbying for the project, TransCanada acknowledged in a July conference call that executives won't decide until late November or early December whether to begin construction.

"The pipeline will neither load nor unload products for Nebraskans", Domina said in a post-hearing submission, adding that the project's alleged economic effect on jobs and taxes within the state are overstated.

The panel's approval came with a tight margin of victory for the pipeline, which would transport about 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Hardisty, Steele City, Neb.

Opponents in August vowed to stage mass protests against the pipeline if Nebraska regulators approve it, but say they will exhaust legal options first.

Daugaard said Monday he will continue supporting the proposed pipeline as long as it can be built and operated safely.

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.

At the same time, Texas refineries face uncertainty because of political instability in Venezuela, one of their top oil sources, and a slowdown in Mexican production. "Any opportunity for them to get better access will buoy their margins".

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