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In win for Trump, Nebraska approves Keystone XL pipeline route

In win for Trump, Nebraska approves Keystone XL pipeline route
From Reuters - November 20, 2017

LINCOLN, Nebraska/CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Nebraska regulators approved a route for TransCanada Corps (TRP.TO) Keystone XL pipeline through the state on Monday, lifting the last big regulatory obstacle for the long-delayed project that U.S. President Donald Trump wants built.

The 3-2 vote by the Nebraska Public Service Commission helps clear the way for the pipeline linking Canadas Alberta oil sands to refineries in the United States, but is likely to be tied up for years in court challenges by opponents who say the project is an environmental risk.

We are going to fight like hell to make sure this pipeline never gets built, said Jane Kleeb, the head of anti-pipelineBold Nebraska, a political advocacy group.

The commissions approval was not for TransCanadas preferred route, but for a more costly alternative that would add five miles of pipeline along with an additional pumping station and transmission lines.

TransCanada Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling said in a statement that the company will review the commissions decision and assess how it will affect the cost and schedule of the project. The companys stock rose 1.3 percent after the vote toC$63.35.

The proposed line has been a lightning rod of controversy since it was first advocated nearly a decade ago with environmentalists making the project a symbol of their broader fight against fossil fuels and global warming. Business groups and Trump, a Republican, said it could boost the economy.

Alberta province Premier Rachel Notley cheered the commissions decision, saying the pipeline will mean greater energy security for all North Americans.

The administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, considered the project for years before rejecting it in 2015 on environmental grounds.

But Trump swiftly reversed that decision after coming into office this year, handing TransCanada a federal permit for the pipeline in March and arguing the project will lower fuel prices, boost national security, and create employment. Trump has said Keystone XL would create 28,000 jobs nationwide. But a 2014 State Department study predicted just 3,900 construction jobs and 35 permanent jobs.

Trumps decision placed the pipelines fate into the hands of the obscure regulatory body in Nebraska, the only state that had yet to approve the pipelines route. Permits along Keystone XLs path have already been approved in Canada, Montana and South Dakota.

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