The TransCanada pipeline, Keystone XL, with modifications for the Ogallala Aquifer (the largest underground fresh water system which supplies several Midwestern metropolitan areas) has been waiting for Governor Dave Heineman's approval. Today, he formally notified President Obama and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, after extensive review of the plans and modifications to address environmental concerns, he approves the project. Now it only requires their approval.
There is criticism and the promise of challenges from environmental groups, the Sierra Club and 350.org. The day after President Obama's inauguration, and his speech which referenced "the threat of climate change", and a Green Inaugural Ball, there is a sense of his commitment to the Global Warming agenda. They expect the President to deny the pipeline.
The approval of Dave Heineman was the last regional political hurdle for allowing the pipeline to begin construction across the border. While addressing the Governor's environmental concerns, the current pipeline proposal presents an attractive array of new jobs and potential revenue for the state.
President Obama used Heineman's hesitation and the request for re-routing, assurances of wildlife protection, and the potential cost of spills, as reason to avoid committing whether or not he would approve the pipeline. He might also delay, as the request and approval is being moved through the State Department, not the Interior. Hillary Clinton is resigning as the Secretary with obligations to testify to Congress about Benghazi, and John Kerry has been nominated to replace her. His nomination is not expected to generate any serious opposition; but when a difficult or unpopular decision needs to be made, the President welcomes any distraction or crisis to swing focus away from the process. He may defer until Kerry is confirmed.
The final word is, this process which began with an application from TransCanada in 2010, and which hopes to be operational by 2015, still faces months of political wrangling and uncertainty.