It appears the Obama Administration is poised to turn down TransCanada’s presidential permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline and reconsider the company’s request after it settles on an alternative route in Nebraska.
The Washington Post, siting administration sources, reports that the State Department will announce this afternoon it will reject TransCanada’s request for now and allow the company to reapply after choosing a route that avoids the Sand Hills. Congress forced the president to make a decision by February 21st in the compromise reached to extend the Social Security payroll tax cut.
News of the possible move spread quickly through the Nebraska legislature meeting in regular session.
Natural Resources Committee Chairman Chris Langemeier of Schuyler says he’s somewhat encouraged by reports that the administration will reconsider the request once an alternative route is chosen in Nebraska.
“Well, we hope it’s not dead,” Langemeier tells Nebraska Radio Network. “But I think this is just another delay move on behalf of the administration to continue to look at this and not make a decision.”
The Unicameral met in special session on the issue, reaching a deal with TransCanada prior to Thanksgiving. TransCanada agreed to move the proposed route away from the Sand Hills. Nebraska agreed to pay for a new environmental impact study and work with the company and federal regulators in determining a new route through the state. Congress stepped in in an effort to speed up the permit process.
“Well, I think that Nebraska was going to take a step to make sure that it goes around the Sand Hills, but yet continues the process of being constructed,” Langemeier says. “So, I think this is disappointing in the effort we’ve put into this.”
TransCanada proposes building the 1,700 mile Keystone XL pipeline from western Canada to oil refineries in the Gulf Coast. It would carry crude oil made from tar sands in Canada. The pipeline became extremely controversial in Nebraska as residents objected to plans to cut through the environmentally sensitive area of the Sand Hills and through the Ogallala Aquifer.
The Washington Post reports that industry officials and analysts said they expect TransCanada to submit a new route proposal for the Nebraska leg of the pipeline within two weeks. The pipeline requires a federal permit from the State Department, because it crosses an international border. The project has been under review for three years.