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Sierra Club Response to Nebraska PSC’s Conditional Approval of Keystone XL

LINCOLN, NEB. - Today, the Nebraska Public Service Commission rejected TransCanada’s preferred route for the Keystone XL pipeline, instead granting a conditional approval along a route the company claimed would be unworkable. The permit would allow TransCanada to build the tar sands pipeline partly along the route of an existing pipeline, Keystone I, rather than entirely along its preferred route.

If built, the pipeline would transport dirty, climate-polluting tar sands through Nebraska to the Gulf Coast for export, threatening land, water, and communities along the way.

Despite this conditional approval from Nebraska regulators, it remains unlikely that the project will move forward. Many in the industry believe the project is unnecessary given a lack of market demand for more tar sands. TransCanada has struggled to line up customers for the pipeline and though they now claim they have support for the project, they still do not have any firm commitments. During their testimony in the PSC’s public hearings, TransCanada argued that building along an alternative route would be unworkable, and will now need additional easements if the company tries to proceed with the project.

The company also still needs federal approvals from the Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Land Management before construction could begin, and a federal lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club and other groups challenging the State Department’s approval of the project is still ongoing.

Just a few days ago, the Keystone I pipeline sprung a leak, spilling more than 210,000 gallons of crude oil in South Dakota.

In response, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune released the following statement:

“Whatever the route, shipping more dirty tar sands through America’s heartland at the expense of our climate and communities remains unacceptable. Regardless of the Public Service Commission’s decision today, millions of people across the country will continue to speak out and demand that the Keystone XL project never gets built. It is disappointing that the Public Service Commission sided with a foreign oil company over the interests of American communities who would be threatened by this pipeline, but we remain confident that Keystone XL will never be built.

“The Sierra Club and our allies will continue to explore all legal options to fight back against this project and protect our water, our health, our communities, and our climate from Keystone XL. Our movement defeated this pipeline once, and we will do it again.”

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The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.

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