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Keystone XL Pipeline Approved by Nebraska Supreme Court

A depot used to store pipes for Transcanada Corp’s planned Keystone XL oil pipeline in Gascoyne, N.D., January 25, 2017. (Terray Sylvester/Reuters)

The Keystone XL Pipeline’s passage through Nebraska was approved Friday by the state Supreme Court, to the dismay of several Indian tribes and environmental groups.

Nebraska’s high court upheld the state Public Service Commission’s approval of the project despite pushback from landowners, the Sierra Club, and Native American tribes who have promised to protest construction. Opponents at one point were arrested after chaining themselves to a truck transporting a pipe.

President Trump pushed for the controversial project, which would transport up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Canada through Nebraska to the Gulf Coast, after it was shelved by President Obama. Trump signed a permit in March giving TC Energy, the company behind the project, permission to “construct, connect, operate and maintain” the pipeline in the U.S.

The 36-inch pipe would cover 875 miles in Nebraska, Montana, and South Dakota.

The ruling brings a more than decade-long battle between the energy industry and environmental advocates, landowners, and Native American tribes one step closer to a conclusion. But the project still faces a federal lawsuit in Montana that seeks to block construction. Critics hope they can stall it until after the 2020 election, when a Democratic president could take their side and oppose it.

Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, both contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, have promised to revoke the Trump administration’s permits for the Keystone project as well as the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Meanwhile, construction remains delayed.

“We will not make any major capital commitments until we have a clear path to construction,” said Paul Miller, the executive in charge of Keystone for TC Energy.

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