BILLINGS, MT. (AP) – TC Energy, formerly TransCanada, says it’s finished the first 1.2-mile segment of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline and has started work on labor camps in Montana and South Dakota, but the future of the project beyond that remains unclear.
A federal judge in Montana recently cancelled a key permit needed for the $8 billion dollar 1,200-mile pipeline from the Canadian oil sands in Alberta to southeast Nebraska where it will link up with the existing Keystone pipeline to Gulf Coast refineries.
Keystone XL was stalled for most of a decade before President Trump was elected and began to push it through to completion. Environmentalists and Native American tribes are bitterly opposed to it because of worries over oil spills and that burning the fuel would make climate change worse.
Work finally started in April at the border crossing in remote northern Montana and TC Energy spokesman Sara Raben says it’s done except for site reclamation work.
While the company has started site work for labor camps near Baker, Mont, and Philip, SD, it has not set a date to occupy them and Montana officials have not yet received its plans to make sure the coronavirus isn’t spread by the workers in the camps.
TC Energy had a 3-year construction timeline after President Trump issued a new permit to cross the border, but it was put into doubt with last week’s federal court ruling cancelling an Army Corps of Engineers permit needed to build across hundreds of streams, wetlands and other water bodies.
The ruling affected all new oil and gas pipeline construction and has been appealed by both the Trump administration and TC Energy. Rabern says they “look forward to a resolution that allows us to advance our construction in 2020 without any further delay.”