Opponents have vowed to fight the decision in courts and protest.
The condition sets up a hurdle for TransCanada—now the company needs to seek the approval of different local landowners, according to The Washington Post. Still, the approval likely means Keystone XL will be able to deliver tar sands crude oil from Alberta, Canada to refineries in Texas in the near future. Reuters called the Nebraska approval “the last big regulatory obstacle” to the completion of the pipeline.
The pipeline, which was proposed in 2008, has become a political football in a partisan world. In 2015, the Obama administration’s State Department denied approval for a large section of the pipeline, saying that it wouldn’t meaningfully contribute to the US economy, and already-low US gas prices wouldn’t be affected by the influx of Canadian oil. After the Trump administration took over, the new president signed an executive order reversing the Obama administration’s 2015 decision and its 2016 decision to rescind approval for the also-controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.
Environmental advocates have opposed Keystone XL because it will be used to transport bitumen oil, which emits more CO2 during the refining process than other forms of crude oil.
The five-person Nebraska Public Service Commission voted 3-2 in favor of approving an east-shifted pipeline. Still, The Washington Post noted that “while the approved alternative route would avoid the Sandhills, it would still cross small parts of the Ogallala aquifer, the main source of drinking and irrigation water in Nebraska and much of the Great Plains.” Just this weekend, the Keystone Pipeline (the first iteration of Keystone XL) reportedly leaked 210,000 gallons (or 5,000 barrels) of oil in South Dakota. Still, proponents say that shipping oil by pipeline is cheaper and safer than shipping it by rail, which is the other option for getting tar sands oil down to refineries in the States.
Opponents of the pipeline approval can appeal the Nebraska Public Service Commission’s order within the next 30 days. The Nebraska Court of Appeals “would then review the matter without a jury and using only the record created during the PSC [Public Service Commission] hearings,” the Post wrote.
Nearly 20 years ago, the Cassini-Huygens mission was launched and the spacecraft has spent the last 13 years orbiting Saturn. Cassini burned up in Saturn’s atmosphere, and left an amazing legacy.