However, the company building the pipeline will be invited to re-apply after finding a new route through Nebraska, according to a government official.
Ending, at least temporarily, months of protests and debates about the necessity and economic benefits of another fixed line to one of the world’s most controversial sources of oil, the Obama administration will announce this afternoon that it is rejecting the permit application for a pipeline from Canada’s tar sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast, according to a government source speaking to several news outlets, including the Washington Post.
The U.S. State Department will announce the decision at 3 p.m. (EST) Wednesday, The Hill reports.
Congress, as part of the payroll tax-cut deal that was negotiated at the end of last year, gave the administration a deadline of February 21 to issue or to deny a permit for the 2,750-kilometer (1,710-mile) pipeline.
The administration will invite TransCanada — the company that would build the pipeline — to re-apply for a permit, once the company figures out a new route through Nebraska, the Post reports. This will likely push a final decision until after this year’s presidential election.
The proposed route drew fierce opposition because the pipeline would traverse the Ogallala Aquifer, a key water source, and the Sandhills, an environmentally fragile region.
In November, TransCanada agreed to reroute the pipeline to avoid the land conflicts, while Nebraska’s state government said it would conduct its own environmental review, neither of which has been completed.
“It’s a fallacy to suggest that the president should sign into law something when there isn’t even an alternate route identified in Nebraska and when the review process” is not yet done, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles Times. “There was an attempt to short-circuit the review process in a way that does not allow the kind of careful consideration of all the competing criteria here that needs to be done.”
Brett writes about agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and the politics and economics of water in the United States. He also writes the Federal Water Tap, Circle of Blue’s weekly digest of U.S. government water news. He is the winner of two Society of Environmental Journalists reporting awards, one of the top honors in American environmental journalism: first place for explanatory reporting for a series on septic system pollution in the United States(2016) and third place for beat reporting in a small market (2014). He received the Sierra Club’s Distinguished Service Award in 2018. Brett lives in Seattle, where he hikes the mountains and bakes pies. Contact Brett Walton