Just days after the Keystone pipeline spilled approximately 210,000 gallons of oil onto the ground in Marshall County, South Dakota, a regulatory body in neighboring Nebraska has approved a new route for the Keystone XL pipeline to cross its state.
In a 3-2 vote announced Monday morning, Nebraska Public Service Commission gave a green light to TransCanada, the pipeline’s owners, to begin construction on the next leg of the controversial oil project. However, rather than approve TransCanada’s preferred route, the commission voted in favor of a slightly longer “mainline alternative route” which weaves through six counties not affected by the company’s first proposal.
While Monday’s decision represents a major step forward for the $8 billion dollar project, the alternate pathway presents a number of problems that will likely continue to delay the pipeline’s construction. As the Omaha World-Herald notes, residents living along the just-approved route are potentially unaware that their property lies in the path of the pipeline. TransCanada, meanwhile, will now have to contact property owners in the six counties affected by the new route in order to obtain the legal agreements necessary to begin construction.
The XL pipeline’s construction had initially been halted by the Obama administration, which argued that the planned expansion to the existing line between Canadian oil supplies with American refineries “would not serve the national interest of the United States.” Shortly after assuming office in 2017, President Trump re-started work on the pipeline, bragging that it was “a historic moment for North America and energy independence.”
In addition to the massive 210,000 gallon leak earlier this month, the Keystone pipeline itself has spilled more than a dozen times since becoming operational in 2010.