The Nebraska Public Service Commission has granted approval for the Keystone XL pipeline to be built, allowing the project to clear its last major regulatory hurdle, CNN reported Monday.
The decision comes just days after the existing portion of the Keystone pipeline sprang a leak, spilling 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota.
The vote, which passed 3-2, will allow the much-maligned expansion of the pipeline to be built along a route that will snake its way from the town of Hardisty in Alberta, Canada, down through the United States, transporting up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day to refineries near the Gulf Coast.
According to Reuters, the approved route is a costlier alternative to the one favored by TransCanada, the Canadian energy company helming the project — a route that would add five miles of pipeline and that could bring additional regulatory challenges.
The controversial project, which was first proposed nearly a decade ago, has drawn fierce criticism from environmental activists from the start — both those who protest the United States’ continued reliance on fossil fuel energy and those concerned about the pipeline’s potential to disrupt ancestral land and natural ecosystems.
President Donald Trump, however, has championed the project as a boon to job creation, claiming its construction would establish 28,000 jobs nationwide — despite a 2014 State Department study estimating that number would be closer to 3,900 temporary jobs.
But even as supporters celebrate the approval for Keystone XL’s construction, environmentalists have vowed to protest the committee’s decision.
“We will appeal,” activist Jane Kleeb told Politico. “We will challenge a foreign corporation being given eminent domain in the county courts, with every intent to bring it to the Supreme Court if needed.”