Today the State Department informed TransCanada Corp. that the agency review of the Keystone XL pipeline and its associated permits will continue in spite of the corporation’s request that the process be paused.
TransCanada is currently in both a legal and logistical battle regarding the future pipeline’s route through Nebraska; the corporation submitted its original request for a pause to the State Department “out of respect for the process” of policy negotiations with lawmakers, activists, and property owners in Nebraska.
More from the WSJ:
“We have communicated to them our intention to continue the review,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said. “We’re not required to pause it based on an applicant’s request, there’s no legal basis to do that.”
Mr. Kirby added that a lot of interagency work has gone into reviewing the project.
The decision to move forward with the final State Department review puts the future of the project in jeopardy. The Obama administration is widely expected to reject the proposed pipeline in the coming weeks or months, bringing to a close the yearslong drama on its fate.
TransCanada couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
If granted, the suspension would have put off the final decision for 7 to 12 months while the Nebraska question was resolved.
What does this mean for the future of the pipeline? It’s likely to have no future—at least for now. By denying TransCanada a pause in the review process, the Administration has guaranteed that it will decide the fate of the pipeline before Barack Obama leaves office in 2017. (The proposed pipeline crosses an international border, and thus requires presidential permission.)
Obama vetoed a bipartisan bill backing the pipeline project back in February, citing concerns over “safety, security, and the environment”; his posture on the issue hasn’t changed, leading me (and the rest of the world) to believe that he won’t leave office having opened the door for Keystone.
Many activists and progressive politicians criticized TransCanada for asking for the suspension, accusing the company of trying to drag things out until they could present the project to a friendlier Administration.
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