Keystone XL Is Back—Here’s What You Need to Know

This Wednesday, the town of York, Nebraska (pop. 7,957) will play host to a public hearing on the Keystone XL pipeline where anyone with an opinion on the project can provide three to five minutes of public comment. That’s right…the most hotly debated energy project of the past decade is officially back. Here are the answers to your burning questions.

Didn’t President Donald Trump already greenlight this project?

Yes, but TransCanada still needs Nebraska to approve the portion of the route going through the state.

On January 24, 2017, President Trump issued an executive memorandum inviting TransCanada to resubmit its application for a presidential permit to construct and operate Keystone XL, directing the secretary of state to make a decision on the presidential permit within 60 days and directing the departments of the Army and the Interior to take all steps to review and approve any outstanding requests for approvals under their jurisdiction pertaining to Keystone XL. The State Department issued the presidential permit for Keystone XL on March 24, 2017.

That’s not the end of the road from a permitting standpoint. TransCanada filed an application with the Nebraska Public Service Commission in October 2015 after its previous Nebraska route approval became embroiled in a lawsuit challenging the underlying state law. Nebraska had not finished its route review when President Barack Obama rejected a federal permit for Keystone XL a month later. Now that President Trump has reversed course, Nebraska is the only state left that needs to approve the route. TransCanada refiled its application with Nebraska on February 17, 2017. Wednesday’s hearing is on this latest application.

Can I get involved if I’m not in Nebraska?

Yes. The Nebraska Public Service Commission is taking comments on its website here.

What does the NAM think?

We support Keystone XL and believe it should be approved as quickly as possible. We have long called for completion of this project and applauded President Trump’s actions to revive it in January. Pipelines are an efficient, safe way to transport energy, and every governmental entity that has looked at Keystone XL (federal and state) has concluded that it can be constructed and operated in harmony with the environment around it.

The energy landscape is changing for the better. We are using our resources in a cleaner and more efficient way, and we are becoming more energy independent as we develop a wide range of fuels and technologies right here on American soil. Manufacturers are parlaying this energy abundance into new and expanded facilities across the country. It’s an exciting time.

Pipeline infrastructure like Keystone XL is a much-needed conduit between domestically produced energy and the consumers who depend on it. Manufacturers benefit not only from the energy transported through the pipeline but also from the construction of it: between 32 and 37 percent of the cost of constructing a pipeline is directly for manufacturing inputs. The major types of manufactured goods used include equipment, line pipe, fittings, coatings and booster stations, including pumps. A recent NAM study found that at least 66 different manufacturing subsectors (out of 86 total) benefited from the construction of crude oil pipelines by $10 million or more in 2015. These include iron and steel, fabricated metals, cement, machinery and paints and coatings.

So what happens next for Keystone XL?

You can see a timeline for the Nebraska permit here. Over the next few months, there will be rolling public hearings along the pipeline route. Then there will be five glorious days of public hearings from August 7 to 11 in Lincoln, Nebraska. The commission expects to issue a final order by September 14.

Ross Eisenberg

Ross Eisenberg

Ross Eisenberg is vice president of energy and resources policy at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). Mr. Eisenberg oversees the NAM’s energy and environmental policy work and has expertise on issues ranging from energy production and use to air and water quality, climate change, energy efficiency and environmental regulation. He is a key voice for manufacturing on Capitol Hill, at federal agencies and across all forms of media.
Ross Eisenberg

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