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An environmental assessment of the Keystone Xl pipeline project by the State Department has concluded it will be safe for Nebraska’s water, land, and wildlife, which could probably be filed under “Obstacles cleared” were it not for a lawsuit against TransCanada in Nebraska that is still pending before the state’s Supreme Court.
Besides the lawsuit brought against the company by environmentalists, indigenous groups, and several landowners, the opponents of the pipeline have been successful in preventing TransCanada from launching work on Keystone XL in Nebraska, so it remains unclear what the impact of the State Department assessment will be with regards to the project’s start.
Keystone XL is one of the most controversial pipeline projects in the United States in recent history. After President Obama vetoed the project on the grounds that it makes no economic sense, one of Donald Trump’s first decisions after taking office was to revive the project that will carry heavy crude from the Albertan oil sands through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska.
The Nebraskan authorities approved the project last year, but with a different route, pressured by landowners who were unhappy with the original one. Although the landowners at the time considered the changed route a victory, TransCanada said it would not have any significant effect on costs, which are estimated at around US$6.3 billion.
TransCanada said it will provide comments on the State Department report after it reviews the material. The company has yet to make the final investment decision on Keystone XL after it spent four months in open season to see if there is sufficient interest from potential buyers of the crude that the pipeline will transport. At the same time, TransCanada is being pressured by Albertan oil producers to make up its mind about the project, which oil sands operators desperately need amid a worsening pipeline capacity shortage at home.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.