Nebraska approves controversial Keystone XL pipeline with conditions

Enlarge / This is the pipeline pumping station for the Keystone operations in Steele City, Nebraska. Steele City is a strategic location for the Keystone Pipeline projects. (credit: Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Image)

On Monday, the Nebraska Public Service Commission issued its final order (PDF) on the fate of energy company TransCanada’s controversial Keystone XL pipeline. The commission conditionally approved the pipeline, but it ordered the pipeline to be moved east of Nebraska’s ecologically sensitive Sandhills region.

The condition sets up a hurdle for TransCanada—now the company needs to seek the approval of different local landowners, according to the Washington Post. Still, the approval likely means Keystone XL will be able to deliver tar sands crude oil from Alberta, Canada to refineries in Texas in the near future. Reuters called the Nebraska approval "the last big regulatory obstacle" to the completion of the pipeline.

The pipeline, which was proposed in 2008, has become a political football in a partisan world. In 2015, the Obama Administration’s State Department denied approval for a large section of the pipeline, saying that it wouldn’t meaningfully contribute to the US economy and already-low US gas prices wouldn’t be affected by the influx of Canadian oil. After the Trump Administration took over, the new president signed an executive order reversing the Obama Administration’s 2015 decision and its 2016 decision to rescind approval for the also-controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.

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