Route for Keystone XL approved, clearing way for Alberta oil – by Shawn McCarthy and Jeff Lewis (Globe and Mail – November 21, 2017)

Nebraska has approved an alternative route for TransCanada Corp.’s $8-billion (U.S.) Keystone XL pipeline, a ruling that removes a key hurdle in the decade long-quest to link Alberta’s oil sands to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast – but will create more uncertainty for the controversial project.

The Monday ruling is far from an unqualified victory and would add costs and further delays to the project. Still, the decision was immediately welcomed by the Alberta-based oil industry and governments in Edmonton and Ottawa.

The 3-2 decision is likely to face appeals by landowners and environmentalists, who contend the ruling approves a route with little actual study and invalidates the presidential permit issued by U.S. President Donald Trump last March that was based on the company’s preferred route.

TransCanada issued a brief statement Monday signalling it would study the decision’s impact on the project’s costs and schedule. TransCanada shares were up 1.5 per cent in late afternoon trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

“While today’s Keystone XL pipeline approval is an important milestone, it does not provide certainty that the project will ultimately be built and begin operating,” Gavin MacFarlane, a vice-president at Moody’s Investors Service, said in a statement.

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