TransCanada must start over if the Keystone XL pipeline is ever to be built.
The State Department denied TransCanada a permit for Keystone XL, stating it did not have time to fully evaluate proposals for a new route around the Sand Hills of Nebraska. Congress imposed a February 21st deadline for President Obama to reach a decision on Keystone in the compromise legislation approved at the end of the year to extend the payroll tax cut.
Assistant Secretary of State Kerri-Ann Jones told reporters in a conference call that deadline didn’t give the State Department adequate time. It recommended the president deny the permit. President Obama accepted its recommendation.
The project isn’t dead, however. Jones noted that TransCanada can reapply, though that means the company must begin the application process anew.
“If TransCanada comes in with a new application, it will trigger a new review process, a completely new review process,” according to Jones.
That assurance means nothing, according to Sen. Mike Johanns, who tells Nebraska Radio Network TransCanada could always reapply. Johanns says he’s very disappointed in the administration’s decision. He says it seemed at one time that the State Department was on the verge of approving Keystone, but this latest decision puts its eventual approval in doubt.
“You just never know. They can be awfully unpredictable in the White House,” Johanns says.
Congressman Lee Terry, in a news conference called by House Republicans in Washington, expressed disappointment in the decision, but resolve in seeing the project through.
“This isn’t over,” Terry said. “The president’s statement did not mention in any specifics why denying the permit is in the national interest of this country.”
Terry said Keystone would have created jobs and improved energy security.
TransCanada says it will reapply with the State Department.
“This outcome is one of the scenarios we anticipated. While we are disappointed, TransCanada remains fully committed to the construction of Keystone XL. Plans are already underway on a number of fronts to largely maintain the construction schedule of the project,” saidRuss Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer in a written statement. “We will re-apply for a Presidential Permit and expect a new application would be processed in an expedited manner to allow for an in-service date of late 2014.”
Congressman Adrian Smith’s office released this written statement after the decision was announced:
“For more than three years this project, which boasts bipartisan support across the country, has been under consideration by the Obama Administration – more than enough time to reach a final, science-based decision. Instead, the President continues to look at this project through a political lens. Nebraskans forged a consensus, understanding the importance of creating jobs and developing energy security from a friendly country and a secure source. There is no reason to start over a process which has created uncertainty and controversy for so long.”
Gov. Dave Heineman expressed disappointment in a written statement.
“I am very disappointed with the actions of President Obama and his decision to deny a jobs-creating pipeline, leaving thousands of Americans unnecessarily unemployed. President Obama should be focused on putting Americans back to work, and could have done so by issuing conditional approval of the pipeline. Approval of the pipeline would have allowed TransCanada to move forward with the project while Nebraska finished the review process of a new segment of the route around the Sandhills. The President’s decision is disruptive and we are now going to review in detail what this means for Nebraska.”
Sen. Ben Nelson took a subtle jab at Congress and Gov. Heineman in his written statement.
“This is what I and others predicted would happen if Congress intervened for political purposes and tried to rush this project by setting an arbitrary deadline.
“I believe the root cause of today’s decision is that the State of Nebraska didn’t work proactively with TransCanada years ago in determining a pipeline route through Nebraska that addresses safety and environmental concerns, as other states along the route did.
“After three years of inaction, the State of Nebraska just two months ago passed legislation to determine the route through Nebraska, recognizing that any deadline would be arbitrary. Since a new route hasn’t been announced, the process of State and public review hasn’t even begun. As a result, it would be premature to approve the project when Nebraskans don’t even know where the new route will be.
“Fortunately, the announcement today allows for a path to move forward in a responsible manner, without being rushed and allowing appropriate reviews at both the state and federal levels to proceed.”
Some Nebraskans applauded the decision.
Bold Nebraska Executive Director Jane Kleeb issued a written statement.
“From day one of this fight, citizens and landowners had one goal in mind–stopping this risky and unnecessary export pipeline. The next time an oil company thinks they can bully their way through towns threatening landowners I am quite certain they will remember one word, Nebraska. Our state stands very tall and proud today. We united our state to protect our land, water and the heritage of our family farms and ranches.”
Ken Winston with the Nebraska Sierra Club also released a written statement.
“The President’s decision protects America’s land and water, which is vitally important to our future both strategically and economically. Our land and water will become increasingly valuable as the world’s population grows and demands for food increase. TransCanada’s risky pipeline endangers these vital resources. Denying the permit also opens up opportunities for clean energy development like Nebraska’s abundant wind and solar resources, which will create far more jobs. The tar sands pipeline being pushed by big oil interests represents the same kind of short-term profiteering and bad energy policies that led to $4 a gallon gasoline and near economic collapse under the previous administration. We do not want to go back down that road.”
The latest action by the Obama Administration casts doubt on whether the Keystone XL project, a proposed oil pipeline stretching 1,700 miles from western Canada to oil refineries along the Gulf Coast in Texas will ever be built.
Sen. Johanns tells us he still expects Keystone XL to be built, some day.
“I think at the end of the day this does get built, but unfortunately now this will cause significant delay.”