Regulators approve alt route for pipeline

Robyn Ryan
November 23, 2017

The proposed extension to the existing Keystone pipeline has been a lightning rod in a growing movement among environmentalists to mitigate the effects of global warming by preventing new energy infrastructure from being built.

Additionally, they wrote, "it is in the public interest for the pipelines to be in closer proximity to each other, so as to maximize monitoring resources and increase the efficiency of response times" with "issues that may arise with either pipeline".

XL's route flexibility is also limited by where the pipeline exits South Dakota and enters Nebraska.

He says the Keystone leak in South Dakota reinforces his worries about oil pipelines, "Isn't a matter of if's it's going to leak".

TransCanada said it is reviewing this route and will determine by next month whether or not to continue to build this project in the state.

The Center for Biological Diversity said the Nebraska decision "makes it all the more important" for a new environmental review to be conducted on the pipeline. In its submissions, TransCanada had portrayed the alternative route as unworkable. The commission, though, approved an alternative route that could throw more uncertainty into the mix for Keystone XL.

And while the final approval should mean that construction can begin, the realities are more complex, and even TransCanada itself says it will now have to review a number of factors relating to the pipeline's economic and political feasibility.

That view mirrored a dissenting opinion from Commissioner Crystal Rhoades.

The impetus for the controversial pipeline has been to provide transportation for the thick bitumen produced in Alberta to the gulf coast.

"There might be a lot of court cases and what-have-you to go, but on the whole I'd like to see them go ahead with this project", says portfolio manager Manash Goswami. Pipeline transportation is also cheaper than rail. The project had the support of the state's governor, Republican Pete Ricketts, its chamber of commerce, trade unions and the petroleum industry. President Donald Trump vowed to reverse that determination and, in January, invited the company to reapply.

The Keystone pipeline transports crude oil from Canada to refineries in Oklahoma and IL, and passes through North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri.

President Barack Obama's administration rejected the pipeline in 2015. The pipeline would drive down prices for gasoline and other consumer products and increase US energy security, he added.

After nine years, two presidential orders and dozens of lawsuits, TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline has finally cleared its last regulatory challenge with Public Service Commissioners in Nebraska voting to approve the pipeline's route through their state. Its power over the project is drawn from the state's constitution.

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