For the first time since President Obama issued a controversial order halting its progress, the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline is once again on track for bureaucratic review after TransCanada submitted a new route through Nebraska designed to avoid environmentally sensitive areas.
The new plan, which TransCanada submitted to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality on Wednesday, takes the Keystone project out of the deep freeze that began in January when Obama agreed with the recommendation of the State Department to reject the initial pipeline application.
This new development, first reported by Fox News, allows Nebraska officials to review the impact of the pipeline’s adjusted route. It also opens the door for the pipeline’s builder, TransCanada, to submit a new complete proposal covering the entire length of the pipeline to the State Department for its review.
That federal approval is necessary because the pipeline, which will originate in Alberta, Canada, must cross the border for oil to reach gulf coast refineries.
The House on Wednesday approved a Republican bill aimed at keeping alive prospects for enacting an overhaul of federal transportation programs and continuing the flow of highway and transit aid to states.
The bill would also allow the Keystone XL pipeline to proceed. The pipeline, which would transport oil produced from Canadian tar sands to Port Arthur, Texas, was previously blocked by President Barack Obama. The White House has threatened to veto the GOP bill, which it says bypasses longstanding practices for the approval of cross-border pipelines. The veto statement noted that a final pipeline route has yet to be decided.
The bill, passed by a 293 to 127 vote, technically extends the government’s authority to spend money from the federal Highway Trust Fund through Sept. 30. That authority now is due to expire on June 30. But the real intent of the measure is to provide a parliamentary rationale for formal negotiations with the Senate on a more comprehensive transportation plan. Both parties have made passage of a transportation bill their top job-creation priority for the year.