Nebraska regulators approved an alternative route for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
It was one of the last major regulatory hurdles facing TransCanada Corp., although opponents say another round of federal approval may now be needed.
The Nebraska Public Service Commission's ruling was on the Nebraska route TransCanada had proposed to complete the $8 billion, 1,179-mile-long (1,897-kilometer) pipeline to deliver oil from Alberta, Canada, to Texas Gulf Coast refineries. The route would cross parts of Montana, South Dakota and most of Nebraska to Steele City, Neb.
"We will conduct a careful review of the Public Service Commission's ruling while assessing how the decision would impact the cost and schedule of the project," said Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer in a statement.
The five-member Nebraska commission was barred from factoring pipeline safety or the risk of spills into its decision because pipeline safety is a federal responsibility. It did not take into account a spill of 210,000 gallons of oil on the existing Keystone pipeline in South Dakota announced days before the decision.
Commissioners decided to approve an alternative route that would run farther north than TransCanada's preferred route. Any group that presented arguments at an August hearing could appeal the decision to a state district court. The case would likely end up before the Nebraska Supreme Court.
The proposed Keystone XL would expand the existing Keystone pipeline, which went into service in July 2010. The current pipeline network runs south through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas and extends east into Missouri and Illinois.
TransCanada says that executives won't decide until late November or early December whether to begin construction. If built, the pipeline will carry an estimated 830,000 barrels a day.