TransCanada Corp. has asked the U.S. State Dept. to delay making a decision on its $8-billion Keystone XL pipeline project until the Nebraska Public Service Commission rules on the portion of the proposed route that runs through the state. That process could take seven to 12 months.
Russ Girling, TransCanada president and CEO, noted in a Nov. 2 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry that the State Dept. decided last year to suspend its review until lawsuits challenging the alignment through Nebraska were resolved. Former Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) approved the route in 2013 without the state commission’s action.
Because the Calgary-based company now has decided to apply to the Nebraska commission, Girling added, “We feel under the current circumstances, a similar suspension would be appropriate.”
Construction industry groups and labor unions have long sought the project’s approval, which, they say, would provide thousands of jobs. Environmental organizations oppose the pipeline, contending that it would worsen carbon pollution and is not in the national interest.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), a strong Keystone supporter, criticized the Obama administration for “its failure to make a decision [on the project] until it becomes someone else’s problem or until those who are attempting to invest in new American jobs simply give up.”
But Tiernan Sittenfeld, League of Conservation Voters senior vice president for government affairs, said TransCanada’s request for a pause while the Nebraska commission deliberates on the route is a just an attempt to delay a ruling on the project until a potentially more sympathetic president is in office. Sittenfeld said in a statement, “President Obama and Secretary Kerry have all the information they need to reject this dangerous pipeline, and we are counting on them to do just that.”