State Department rejects TransCanada’s Keystone XL suspension request

The US Department of State refused TransCanada Corp.’s request for a suspension of its Keystone XL pipeline cross-border permit application review 2 days after receiving it. A spokesman said DOS notified TransCanada that the process will continue, and Secretary of State John F. Kerry felt it was most appropriate to keep it in place.

“We respect the decision,” a TransCanada spokesman responded on Nov. 4. “Our efforts will continue to demonstrate that Keystone XL is in the national interest of the United States—just as five reports and 17,000 pages of State Department review have demonstrated over the past 7+ years.

“Every test, every hurdle has been satisfied,” the spokesman said. “If the decision on a presidential permit for Keystone XL is based on its merits and on science over symbolism, it will be approved.”

TransCanada requested the suspension as Nebraska’s Public Service Commission considers Keystone XL’s new proposed route across the state which the company submitted on Oct. 5. It said that it expects that process to take 7-12 months (OGJ Online, Nov. 3, 2015).

Kerry’s quick decision on the suspension request contrasted with more than 7 years of delays since the Calgary oil and gas transmission company filed its original application for a permit to cross the US-Canadian border with a 1,179-mile pipeline from Hardisty, Alta., to Steele City, Neb.

Environmental activists made it a major issue because it would transport a diluted bitumen stream (dilbit) made from heavy crude recovered from Alberta’s oil sands. The project also would provide an outlet for some of the lighter crude being produced from the Bakken tight shale formation in North Dakota and Montana.

DOS denied TransCanada’s suspension request a day after White House Press Sec. Josh Earnest said Obama intends to finally decide the matter before he leaves office. “That continues to be the current plan, even as we evaluate their [cross-border permit] request and consider the reasoning behind it,” he said during the Nov. 3 daily briefing.

“We’ve talked about how aggressively advocates on both sides of this issue have politicized this particular infrastructure project. So I guess what I would say is there’s no doubt that there have been a series of delays for reasons related to politics and legalities, but there’s also been a delay based on a desire to shield this process from politics so that the merits can be appropriately considered,” Earnest said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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