Aside from on-the-ground demonstrations, however, the pipeline also has another obstacle to overcome: a federal lawsuit filed in Montana following President Donald Trump's approval of the 1,179-mile construction project.
The court found there was sufficient evidence to support the Nebraska Public Service Commission's decision that an alternative route for the pipeline was in the public interest, according to a ruling released on Friday.
The company said past year that it has sufficient support from shippers to go ahead with the project - now expected to cost ~$8B - but has not said whether it actually will move forward.
Attorneys for the opponents argued that TC Energy's application with the commission was valid only for its preferred route, and the company formerly known as TransCanada could seek approval only for one route at a time. Opponents filed a lawsuit arguing the company didn't follow all the required procedures for the route that was approved. "Our evidence proved the preferred route would be detrimental to the lands of Nebraska, that there are no on or off ramps for Nebraskans to actually use the pipeline, that there is no fixed entry point into Nebraska, and that the claims of increased tax revenues and jobs simply were not true, however, we will respect the court's decision and prepare for the next steps", Domina said. We are not only focused on what we do, but how we do it - guided by core values of safety, responsibility, collaboration and integrity, our more than 7,000 people are committed to sustainably developing and operating pipeline, power generation and energy storage facilities across Canada, the United States and Mexico.
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The high court on Friday sided with the state, saying the Public Service Commission is the agency responsible for determining which pipeline route is in the public interest, and that it did so after months of consideration. Protesters, including from Native American tribes in Nebraska and South Dakota, have promised to mobilize if construction begins. From there it would continue through Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas until it reaches Gulf Coast refineries.
TC Energy has maintained that it would be the safest pipeline ever built, but landowners cite leaks from the company's existing Keystone pipeline, as well as pipeline disasters in Michigan, Wyoming and Arkansas, as evidence that pipelines eventually fail.
Many Republican politicians and labor groups see Keystone XL as an economic boon, a way to create jobs and satisfy the world's demand for oil.
President Obama rejected the Keystone XL in 2015 but President Trump reversed that during his first week in office. In March of this year, President Trump issued a new permit which superseded the previous one. The project still faces a federal lawsuit in Montana attempting to block construction and a handful of landowners along the route have not given permission for the work.
The chairman of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, Larry Wright Jr., said the ruling disregarded the potential destruction of the tribe's cultural resources.