Feds OK Keystone pipeline restart

The Transportation Department has given TransCanada Corp. permission to restart its Keystone oil pipeline, just a day after blocking resumption of operations on the line that has suffered two recent leaks.

The department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in a letter Saturday, told the company that it had approved its restart plan and that the restart could commence today.

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“PHMSA’s decision follows a thorough evaluation of the company’s proposed plan, and safety activities required under the plan. As required by the Corrective Action Order, restart of the pipeline will be under restricted conditions and closely monitored by PHMSA,” the agency said in a statement Sunday.

The 1,300-mile line that runs from Canada to Oklahoma leaked roughly 400 barrels of oil in North Dakota on May 7, prompting a weeklong shutdown. 

The 591,000 barrel-per-day line was closed down again after another leak was discovered in Kansas late last month.

The incidents come as TransCanada is seeking federal permission to expand the Keystone network with a pipeline to bring oil sands from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries.

The planned oil sands pipeline – which is under State Department review – is at the center of a Washington, D.C. political battle. 

Green groups and some Democratic lawmakers opposing the project are pushing for a more in-depth State Department review.

But House Republicans are pushing legislation to expedite a decision on the project they call vital to bolstering U.S. energy security.