360-degree look at reaction to Keystone XL pipeline approval

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This aerial photo shows spills from TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone pipeline, Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, that leaked an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil onto agricultural land in northeastern South Dakota, near Amherst, S.D. The spill, the latest in a series of leaks on the existing pipeline, raised concerns about other potential spills, economic impact, and climate change. But under Nebraska law, the state Public Service Commission is not allowed to consider pipeline safety and spill risks when deciding on a permit. The alternative route needed more study on both the state and federal level, she said before the final vote, and it failed to give landowners along that different path the ability to address the commission. The pipeline was opposed by newly elected Mary Ridder, a cattle rancher from the Sandhills region, and Chrystal Rhoades, who has worked with a variety of community organizations before becoming a commissioner. Keystone XL is planned to pass through Montana and South Dakota, ending in Nebraska, where it would connect to the existing pipeline network that goes on to the Gulf Coast. "Nebraskans, joined by millions of people across the country, have held off construction of this pipeline for more than seven years".

Jane Kleeb, president of the environmental advocacy group Bold Alliance, said green-lighting the alternative may have helped the commission reach a "middle ground solution". The State Department, which reviews pipelines that cross worldwide boundaries, reportedly is examining whether it must conduct a new environmental review, a process that could take years and would come at considerable expense to American taxpayers.

While TransCanada has promoted the pipeline project as a jobs creator, Rhoades said that "there was no evidence provided that any jobs created by the construction of this project would be given to Nebraska residents". A TransCanada spokeswoman said Tuesday the cause is unknown. "This is the equivalent of asking a distant relative for permission to do a major construction in your backyard", she wrote.

Pipeline proponents need 'stamina of an ox' to endure approval process: TransCanada director

Some analysts have questioned the financials of the Keystone XL project in the face of falling crude oil prices that have hurt production growth from relatively expensive oil sands formations. Pipeline transportation is also cheaper than rail. He urged the commission to reject the project, contending TransCanada's lawyers hadn't met their burden of proof. The firm said that any party could appeal the PSC order within 30 days.

The Sierra Club also greeted the commission's decision as a partial victory.

TransCanada said it is reviewing this route and will determine by next month whether or not to continue to build this project in the state. "It's a matter of when and I wouldn't want my land to be contaminated, with the water underneath".

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