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The Keystone XL pipeline may be on track for U.S. review and approval, once again, for the first time since January when President Obama halted its progress, according to a report today from FOX News.
The new plan was submitted by TransCanada, the pipeline's builder, to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality on Wednesday. This development allows Nebraska officials to review the impact of the pipeline's adjusted route and also enables TransCanada to submit a new complete proposal covering the entire length of the pipeline to the State Department for its review.
Extensive news coverage on the issue reflects that the pipeline pits environmentalists against others interested in the thousands of jobs the pipeline is expected to create, not to mention those who view it as a positive move for U.S. oil infrastructure to access Canadian crude. Environmentalists maintain that the project would harm Nebraska's sensitive Sand Hills region. FOX News noted that the formal effort by TransCanada and Nebraska officials to find a new route officially stopped with the president's January decision. But, this past week, state lawmakers in Nebraska approved legislation allowing the review process to resume.
"Nebraska will move forward on the review process of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and any future pipelines that will create jobs and reduce U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil," said Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman.
Today FOX reports that the review will be conducted by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and is expected to take several months. Heineman said he fully expects to get an approved proposal to the Obama administration before November's election. A draft report will be open to public review before a final environmental impact assessment is determined.
Other steps suggest optimism. Huge containment vats at TransCanada's terminal in Hardisty, Alberta, are already under construction. They're supposed to be used for the Keystone pipeline, but plans also could shift to skip the U.S. altogether.
In an interview he gave in January, TransCanada CEO Russ Girling noted that demand for Canadian oil will all but guarantee that the pipeline is built -- if not south into the United States, then likely west towards the Pacific Ocean with access to Asia.
It remains uncertain when TransCanada will send the State Department its new permit application. Since most of the route hasn’t changed, the pipeline’s proponents hope the federal review will be swift, or at the very least not take the three years that preceded the January rejection. TransCanada first applied to build the Keystone-XL pipeline in September 2008.