TransCanada announced on Friday that it has submitted a new application for a permit for the northern portion of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that would bring Canadian tar-sands oil from Alberta to Steele City, Neb., reigniting the divisive political debate over the project.
"Our application for a Presidential Permit builds on more than three years of environmental review already conducted for Keystone XL," TransCanada CEO Russ Girling said in a statement, noting that 10,000 pages of review documents have already been completed for the project. "It was the most comprehensive process ever for a cross-border pipeline and that work should allow our cross-border permit to be processed expeditiously and a decision made once a new route in Nebraska is determined."
The Obama administration earlier this year denied a permit for TransCanada to build the full pipeline running from Canada down to the Gulf Coast, but President Obama did give the nod to the southern portion of the project, which will run from Cushing, Okla., to Port Arthur, Texas, to help ease a bottleneck in the nation's pipeline system.
Since then, TransCanada has unveiled a new route for the northern portion of the pipeline that would go around the sensitive Sandhills region in Nebraska. Obama had delayed the project last fall because of environmental concerns about the route through Nebraska. The Nebraska Legislature and the state's Republican governor, Dave Heineman, have signed off on legislation that will allow the company to work with Nebraska's Department of Environmental Quality in finalizing this new route.