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TC Energy Starts Preliminary Work On Keystone XL

TC Energy said March 11 that it has started preliminary work along the route of the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline in anticipation of construction in early April. Opponents await a judge’s ruling on their request to block work on the pipeline.

TC Energy spokeswoman Sara Rabern said the Calgary-based company was moving equipment this week and will begin mowing and felling trees in areas along the pipeline’s 1,200-mile (1,930-kilometer) route within the next 3-5 days.

The work is planned in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, according to Rabern. She did not provide further location details.

The company plans to begin construction in April at the line’s border crossing in northern Montana. That would be a major milestone for a project first proposed in 2008. The project has attracted opposition from climate activists who say fossil fuel usage must be curbed to combat global warming and water supplies are threatened by pipeline spills.

TC Energy also plans work next month on employee camps in Fallon County and Haakon County, S.D.

In January, environmental group asked U.S. District Judge Brian Morris to block work. They said clearing and tree felling along the route would destroy bird and wildlife habitat. The judge had denied a request from environmentalists to block construction in December because no work was immediately planned.

The request by environmentalists came days after the Trump administration approved a right-ofway allowing the $8 billion line to be built across federal land.

Keystone XL was rejected twice under former President Barack Obama over worries it could make climate change worse.

The pipeline would transport up to 830,000 barrels (35 million gallons) of crude oil daily from western Canada to terminals on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

President Donald Trump has been a strong proponent. The Republican issued a special permit for the pipeline last year after Morris had blocked the project in November, 2018, citing potential spills and other environmental concerns.

A legal challenge to Trump’s permit is pending before Morris.

Another oil pipeline in TC Energy’s Keystone network in October spilled an estimated 383,000 gallons of oil in eastern North Dakota. Critics say a damaging spill from Keystone XL is inevitable given the length of the line and the many rivers and other waterways it would cross beneath.

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