State Department reviewing Keystone XL approval after Nebraska decision

State Department reviewing Keystone XL approval after Nebraska decision
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The State Department is reviewing its cross-border permit for the Keystone XL pipeline in light of Nebraska regulators’ decision to approve an alternate route through the state.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission voted 3-2 on Monday to allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. But the commission will not allow developer TransCanada to build along its preferred path, instead rerouting the pipeline through an alternative corridor.

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President Trump in March released a presidential permit for Keystone XL, allowing it to cross the U.S.-Canada border. But that permit was based on an environmental analysis that assumed the pipeline followed TransCanada’s preferred route.

A State Department spokesperson said Monday that the agency had “heard about a possible modified route, and we are in the process of gaining more precise information in order to determine if there will be any permitting impacts as a result of those changes.”

Environmentalists are bullish that the use of the alternative route will lead to new reviews and delay eventual construction of the pipeline.

Jane Kleeb, a leading anti-pipeline activist in Nebraska, tweeted that the decision means “years of new review and legal challenges are now on the table.”

Two federal agencies still need to approve permits for Keystone XL. The Nebraska vote is also subject to legal challenges, and opponents have already sued against permitting decisions in South Dakota and on the federal level.

TransCanada said in a statement Monday that it will “conduct a careful review of the Public Service Commission's ruling while assessing how the decision would impact the cost and schedule of the project.” The company is also reviewing whether the $8 billion, long-delayed project is still economically viable.