Activists seek to intervene in Nebraska Keystone XL review

Rex Tillerson, who now serves as secretary of state and is also the former Chief Executive of Exxon Mobil, recused himself from the decision-making process.

His deputy, Obama administration holdover Tom Shannon, will make the recommendation on Friday that the pipeline serves U.S. national interests, according to two senior officials who spoke to AP. Spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters he would have more on Keystone during a briefing on Friday.

Two government sources, who declined to be identified, said on Thursday that the pipeline approval would be announced by the White House.

Linda Anderson of Bold Nebraska says her pipeline opposition group will argue that opponents have an interest as taxpayers and consumers of the state's water.

The White House would not confirm the report.

While the permit will eliminate a crucial barrier for the pipeline, other hurdles still remain, including winning approval for the project in Nebraska and from landowners there who have denied it the right of way.

The 1,200-mile pipeline - which would deliver crude from western Canada to the Gulf Coast - has been the subject of almost a decade of controversy and emphatic lobby efforts by both environmentalists and the oil industry.

Environmental groups said they had been prepared for the approval and vowed Thursday to fight the pipeline at every turn with petitions, political pressure and mass protests. Along with those pending federal permits, TransCanada is also filing permits with the Nebraska Public Service Commission.

The property tax revenue associated with the Keystone XL pipeline would help local counties and schools recover from the projected spending cuts in state aid.

In rejecting the pipeline, the Obama administration had argued it would undercut USA efforts to clinch a global climate change deal that was reached weeks later in Paris. Awarding cross-border pipeline permits is technically the domain of the Secretary of State. Critics have countered that the jobs would be few and short-lived and that the oil won't be of benefit domestically, as it is slated for export to global markets.

  • Santos West