The Nebraska Public Service Commission confirmed late Thursday that it received an application from pipeline company TransCanada to construct sections of Keystone XL through the state. It's up to TransCanada, the commission said, to establish that the route through Nebraska serves the public's interest.
Keystone XL was sidelined by President Barack Obama largely on environmental grounds. The heavier grade of crude oil that would move through the pipeline is seen as more carbon intensive and more problematic if spilled than other types of oil. TransCanada said it has listened to opponents and is working to address environmental concerns.
Environmental campaigners during Obama's tenure pressured the company to revise the pipeline's route to avoid an important regional water supply. Nearly four years ago, the state's governor said he was satisfied the revised route for Keystone XL avoided the sensitive Sand Hills aquifer of the state.
Pipeline opponent group Bold Nebraska led the fight against the pipeline under the Obama administration. Friendlier to the oil industry than his predecessor, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that facilitates the approval process for North American energy infrastructure.
On the merits of the pipelines, the Trump administration said U.S. steel and U.S. workers would help revitalize North American energy infrastructure. Jane Kleeb, president of the Bold opposition, said Keystone XL fails that test.
"Keystone XL is a foreign-owned pipeline, using foreign steel [and will be] headed to the foreign export market," she said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Nebraska Public Service Commission itself is the target of scrutiny. Nebraska's governor is calling for a probe into the commission's top official because of allegations of mishandling campaign material from her opponents in the state Republican Party.
TransCanada, for its part, defended the merits of the pipeline in a statement on the filing of the request for Keystone XL. The pipeline, it said, would support the American workforce by generating "hundreds of millions of dollars" for the people of Nebraska and surrounding communities.
"This application has been shaped by direct, on-the-ground input from Nebraskans," Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and CEO, said in a statement.