The construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which divides the United States environmental defenders and proponents of energy resource development, crossed a new hurdle on Monday with the agreement given by Nebraska.
The Nebraska Public Affairs Commission (center) has granted Canadian company TransCanada a building permit that would allow it to begin work to begin construction of the 1,900-kilometer pipeline.
Keystone XL will connect to an existing pipeline network in the United States and will have the capacity to deliver 830,000 barrels of oil per day from fields in Alberta (western Canada) to refineries on the southern coast of Canada. United States.
The project, with a total cost of $ 5.3 billion, was launched in 2008, but stalled under Barack Obama’s previous US administration. His successor Donald Trump revived him.
However, it is opposed by environmental protection associations in the United States. They cited a leak last week on the already existing Keystone pipeline, also owned by TransCanada, which has spilled nearly 800,000 liters of oil into the neighboring state of South Dakota to illustrate the dangers posed by Keystone XL .
But its proponents argue that it is safer to transport oil by pipeline than by rail or road and that the project will also create jobs.
The Nebraska Public Affairs Committee voted in favor of the bill by three votes to two. One of the members who voted against, Crystal Rhoades, questioned in remarks made on the sidelines of the meeting the economic gains expected from the construction of Keystone XL.
TransCanada “has not provided enough evidence to justify the expected economic impact of this project for Nebraska,” she said.
– An alternative route –
However, the Commission did not investigate, for legal reasons, the risks of pollution of the pipeline or its consequences for the environment, but considered its route across the state.
In particular, it voted on an alternative route, which could allow the opponents of the project to initiate new appeals. This decision was welcomed by landowners’ lawyers who objected to the route originally chosen by TransCanada.
It has however been condemned by environmental protection organization Bold Nebraska, for whom this different route threatens an area of sand dunes and an aquifer.
“Today’s decision (of Monday) puts a huge question mark on the legality of the project, ” said Jane Kleeb, a representative of Bold Nebraska, at a news conference. She stated that the alternative route had not been reviewed by the US federal authorities and would require TransCanada to request new approvals.
The Canadian group said it would ” carefully review the decision of the Nebraska Public Affairs Commission to assess how it could impact the cost and timing of the project .”
Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr assured that “with the Nebraska decision, the project now has all the required approvals, both in Canada and the United States “, recalling that the authorities had ” always supported the Keystone XL project “.
Keystone XL would allow the Canadian province of Alberta to increase its oil exports, while TransCanada abandoned another controversial oil pipeline project in October that would bring oil from western Canada to the Atlantic coast. .