TransCanada, the company pushing to build a massive pipeline through the American Midwest, told the government on Monday to suspend its application, effectively halting the approval process. In this surprising twist, the hopeful builders of the Keystone XL pipeline are seeking to avoid the project’s imminent rejection and buy more time to complete a review in Nebraska, which the company had previously tried to avoid. This is the latest development in a long struggle that has inspired public protest from environmentalists, farmers, indigenous peoples, and others.
TransCanada has effectively asked the government to pause the application process, allowing the company time to complete a review in the state of Nebraska, where the Supreme Court has already approved Keystone XL activities. Passing a review in Nebraska would clear a hurdle toward building the pipeline, but since the route crosses borders, the ultimate go-ahead would have to come from the State Department. The government must now determine whether to approve the company’s request, or move forward with a final decision.
The Wall Street Journal reports that people close to the project expected the project would be rejected this week. It appears that TransCanada may be attempting to put off the final review until after the 2016 presidential election, perhaps in hopes that a change in guard will bring different results. Recently, Hillary Clinton announced her opposition to the pipeline, falling in line with President Obama’s previous veto of the project, and Sen. Bernie Sanders has also voiced his objections. Republican presidential candidates are generally in favor of the project.
Opponents of the pipeline are urging continued pressure on politicians in hopes the project will be shut down entirely at the federal level. Obama prepares to meet with other world leaders over climate issues in Paris next month, so what he decides to do in relation to the Keystone XL project will carry a lot of weight in the global arena. Will Obama make a bold move and deny a major energy project based on climate grounds?
Images via TransCanada