(National Sentinel) Energy Dependence: State regulators in Nebraska sought to finally approve the long-awaited Keystone XL pipeline project, much-delayed thanks in large part to environmental activism on the part of groups and the former Obama administration.
In a 3-2 vote on Monday, the Nebraska Public Service Commission approved a route for the $8-billion pipeline that would stretch from Canada to Texas and which would pass through the state.
However, the regulators did not approve the route sought by the pipeline’s owner project operator, TransCanada, the Washington Times reports.
Oddly, the new route was approved with very little study or debate.
Now, the State Department, which is in charge of reviewing pipelines that cross international borders, is looking into whether it must now perform an entirely new review, which is a process that may take years and come at considerable expense to taxpayers.
As TransCanada is thus far not saying whether it is even interested in the new route and using the permit issued by the Nebraska PSC, analysts proffer that state regulators have made it far less likely that the project will ever be completed after what was supposed to be the final hurdle to moving ahead with the pipeline’s construction.
“I am just bewildered by the PSC decision. I think the commission wanted to have their cake and eat it, too,” Brigham McCown, former administrator of the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, told the Times.
“The current route has been studied by the federal government for eight years, produced over 800,000 pages of Obama administration [review] documents I think these guys lost sight of the big picture and got caught up in minutiae and did not have the political courage to do what’s right and instead tried to split the baby,” McCown added.
During his campaign, President Donald J. Trump promised that he would approve the pipeline and that it would get built. Experts note, however, that the administration has little control over state regulatory processes.
And as it stares at a seemingly endless approval process, TransCanada officials may simply choose to abandon the project altogether or make good on an earlier threat to extend the pipeline to the Canadian west coast and sell the oil to international buyers like China.
Still, officials with the Trump State Dept. said they are currently looking at whether another lengthy study is needed in order to green-light the project.
McCown said Nebraska regulators “have turned this very simple pipeline project into a circus.”
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