Nebraska just gave the go-ahead for Keystone XL, allowing TransCanada to clear the last regulatory hurdle for the hotly contested oil pipeline. After a nine-year battle, TransCanada can move forward with the project against which thousands have protested. However Nebraska’s Public Service Commission didn’t approve the company’s preferred route – but an alternative route TransCanada portrayed in the past as unworkable.
Nebraska approved a permit for the $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline in a three to two vote. But the state approved an alternative route that would move the oil pipeline east – which would avoid more of Nebraska’s Sandhills region. It would still cross parts of the Ogallala aquifer, the primary source of drinking water for Nebraska and a large part of the Great Plains. The pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil every day from the Alberta tar sands to Texas refineries.
This decision could complicate the process for TransCanada, as they may have to arrange easements from landowners, according to The Washington Post.
Environmental activists are vowing to continue the fight. CREDO Action Deputy Political Director Josh Nelson said in a statement, “This shortsighted and dangerous decision is a slap in the face to the people of Nebraska and the hundreds of thousands of Americans who weighed in this year urging the Public Service Commission to stop the pipeline. But the nearly decade-long fight to stop Keystone XL does not end today. Pipeline fighters have been told time and time again that this pipeline is a done deal. We did not stop fighting when Trump tried to force the pipeline’s approval earlier this year and we will not stop now.”
The approval comes mere days after TransCanada’s Keystone 1 pipeline spilled 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota.