Nebraska Greenlights the Keystone XL Pipeline—with a New Route

In a 3–2 vote, the Nebraska Public Service Commission approved an alternate route for the tar sands oil pipeline.

Andrew Burton/Getty

In a long-awaited decision, Nebraska’s Public Service Commission voted this morning to approve the controversial Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline, but along a different path than energy company TransCanada had proposed.  

“The Public Service Commission got it half right,” said Anthony Swift, director of NRDC’s Canada Project. “As landowners and indigenous people have said for years, the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is a threat to their water and climate.”

Indeed, the battle against the pipeline has been raging for nearly a decade, with Nebraska residents standing up to protect their land and forming an unlikely coalition to help stop it. In November 2015, President Obama officially rejected Keystone XL, citing America’s need to be a leader on climate action, but in March of this year, President Trump revived the ill-conceived project, reigniting fierce opposition in Nebraska and around the world. Until today, the pipeline didn’t have an approved route through the Cornhusker State.

Today’s decision comes on the heels of a major spill from TransCanada’s Keystone I tar sands pipeline, a frightening example of what could happen in Nebraska—home to the precious Ogallala aquifer, one of the country’s largest sources of fresh water—if Keystone XL is built.

“Only a couple days ago, we got yet another sickening confirmation—oozing across the land in South Dakota—that pipelines leak,” Swift said, vowing that NRDC, which sued the Trump administration over its Keystone XL decision in March, will not back down from this battle. “There’s no safe route for Keystone XL, and we will continue fighting with every tool, and every partner, to make sure it’s never built.”

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