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The Keystone XL Pipeline, which would run through Antelope and Holt counties, took another step toward construction last week after President Donald Trump gave his official approval of the project.
TransCanada Corp. said on Friday morning it has received a Presidential Permit from the U.S. Department of State to build the pipeline. The company also said it will withdraw its bankruptcy claim of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and end its U.S. Constitutional challenge of former President Barack Obama's rejection of the project.
"This is a significant milestone for the Keystone XL project," said Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer. “We greatly appreciate President Trump’s Administration for reviewing and approving this important initiative and we look forward to working with them as we continue to invest in and strengthen North America’s energy infrastructure.”
While the Presidential Permit does give the project a step forward, TransCanada is still waiting for approval from he Nebraska Public Service Commission, which is reviewing the pipeline route permit application. That process is expected to take 8-12 months.
The signing of the presidential permit was met with criticism from pipeline opposition. Bold Nebraska held a press conference just hours after TransCanada's announcement, vowing it would continue to fight the pipeline.
“We are extremely disheartened by the current decision to approve this dead project, the KXL. This is a foreign project, yet the American people are taking all the risk. The bitumen is not sought after anymore on the market, and is certainly not worth jeopardizing the United States largest Aquifer," Wayne Frederick, Tribal Council Member, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, said. "Professionally I would have hoped this President would have reached out to the Midwest tribes for input and perspective. Respect our Existence or Expect Resistance.”
The organization is spearheading a letter campaign to the Public Service Commission.