Alternative Keystone XL route OKed in Nebraska

Nebraska commission approves Keystone XL route, clearing obstacle for TransCanada's hotly disputed oil pipeline

Nebraska commission approves Keystone XL route, clearing obstacle for TransCanada's hotly disputed oil pipeline

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said Monday the provincial government is "very pleased" that Nebraska has approved the Keystone XL pipeline route.

In a written decision, the panel said it was in the public's interest to put the new pipeline nearer to TransCanada's existing Keystone pipeline already running through the state to make it easier to monitor and respond to spills, to reduce impacts on endangered species and other benefits related to reduced conflicts.

Nebraska regulators approved a route for TransCanada Corp's Keystone XL pipeline through the state on Monday, removing a big regulatory obstacle for the long-delayed project backed by President Donald Trump, but leaving its future shrouded in legal and market uncertainty.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. The proposed Keystone XL route would cross parts of Montana, South Dakota and most of Nebraska to Steele City, Nebraska.

The administration of former USA president Barack Obama, a Democrat, considered the project for years before rejecting it in 2015, saying "it would not make a meaningful contribution to our economy".

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The project has faced a barrage of criticism from environmental activists and some landowners for almost a decade. They have said they are anxious spills could pollute water critical for grazing cattle, and that tax revenue and jobs will be short-lived.Just days ago, TransCanada's existing Keystone system spilled 5,000 barrels in South Dakota and pipeline opponents said the spill highlighted the risks posed by the proposed XL expansion."Common sense has gone out the window on this project", said rancher Randy Thompson after the commission's decision.The commission's approval of TransCanada's "alternative" route surprised some Nebraskans.

Just days ago, 210,000 gallons of oil leaked from the Keystone pipeline in South Dakota, raising the kind of concerns opponents to Keystone XL have been warning about for years.

In a statement, the Sierra Club called the commission's vote merely a "conditional approval", noting that the route it suggested was one that TransCanada had "claimed would be unworkable". The commission had the option of including major caveats that would add years to the project's timetable.

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

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"I don't think anyone has officially been told where this new route will be", he said.

Ken Winston is an attorney representing environmental groups. The ruling is also nearly certain to face legal challenges, and is likely to end up at the Nebraska Supreme Court.

The proposed Keystone XL would expand the existing Keystone pipeline, which went into service in July 2010.

The pipeline transports crude from the Alberta oilsands in Canada, to refineries in IL and Oklahoma, passing through North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri.

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"We're going through the process with every intention to get this project built", John said on Wednesday. The company has not announced the results of its open season bidding process, which ended October 26. Some opponents may try to physically block construction and have likened their resistance to the activists who protested the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock, North Dakota.

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