The Keystone XL pipeline project has been in the works since 2008, but it looked as if the last leg of it would never get built after then-President Barack Obama rejected the permit application in 2015. However, the Trump administration reversed that decision in March, setting in motion again the process of local reviews.
What’s left to build?
The “XL” would form the hypotenuse of a “Keystone” triangle (see map), running 1,179 miles from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Neb. There, it would connect with two existing Keystone lines that are already funneling crude to refineries in Illinois, Oklahoma, and Texas.
But the international leg is facing formal challenges in two main places: in Nebraska, where the state’s Public Service Commission has to approve TransCanada’s controversial plans for the pipeline’s route through the state; and in Montana, where three separate lawsuits have been filed in federal courts by environmental and indigenous groups that are seeking to halt construction.
Could opponents kill the project by delaying it in court?
That depends. Dragging out approval from the Public Service Commission is part of the opposition’s strategy in Nebraska, a state that since 2011 has seen pitched battles over the pipeline. Public hearings were landowners, representatives from the Ponca Tribe, and environmentalists will make their case for rejecting the proposed route are slated to begin in August, and most analysts expect the panel’s review to take a year at a minimum.