- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Keystone XL oil pipeline suffered yet another setback Tuesday as Nebraska regulators rejected calls to reconsider the project’s route through their state.

In a unanimous 5-to-0 decision, Nebraska’s Public Service Commission (PSC) shot down a request from TransCanada, the company proposing the $8 billion project, to change the pipeline’s approved path.

The PSC last month green-lighted a route through Nebraska but not the one TransCanada preferred, fueling speculation the company could pull the plug on the entire proposal.

TransCanada filed formal motions asking the PSC to amend its permit and approve its preferred route, but Nebraska officials refused.

“The commission finds the motion for reconsideration should be denied,” the panel wrote in its decision.

The move seems to end the approval process in the state and leaves TransCanada with a decision of whether to scrap the project or move forward with the less-than-favorable path.

The company said it remains committed to Keystone, but also said it will take time to examine its options in light of the decision.

“Following today’s decision, we will take the time to review the decision and determine the appropriate next steps for the project in Nebraska. More importantly, Keystone XL remains a viable project with strong commercial support,” said company spokesman Terry Cunha. “The project continues to have widespread support of the U.S. and Canadian federal governments as well as state and provincial governments in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Saskatchewan and Alberta. President Trump and his administration continue to actively support Keystone XL and we expect to secure final federal permits in early 2018. We remain committed to the Keystone XL project.”

Environmentalists praised the decision and said it should lead TransCanada to kill Keystone once and for all.

“We are pleased the commission denied TransCanada’s motion to amend their application. This should send a message to TransCanada and their investors that Nebraskans don’t want their tar sands pipeline,” said Ken Winston, an attorney with the Sierra Club. “TransCanada should do the right thing for once and withdraw their application. If they choose to appeal, we will continue to fight the Keystone XL tar sands export pipeline until it is finally stopped.”

Keystone has become a major flash point between the energy industry and environmental groups. In 2015, then-President Obama cited concerns over climate change in denying presidential permits for the project, which would carry oil from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Presidential approval is needed because the pipeline would cross the U.S.-Canada boundary.

President Trump made the project a campaign issue during his 2016 run, and shortly after taking office signed an executive order resurrecting it.

Should TransCanada decide to move ahead with the approved route, it’s expected that the State Department will have to conduct another round of environmental studies, possibly pushing construction off for another several years.

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