Nebraska’s Keystone XL decision won’t hinge on Thursday’s 210,000-gallon spill.
Oil gushed out of the Keystone pipeline in rural South Dakota on Thursday, 30 miles west of the Lake Traverse Indian Reservation. Cleanup crews raced to the site, and TransCanada temporarily shut down the conduit.
So far, there are no reports of the oil entering water sources. But as local correspondent Kayleigh Schmidt said in a KSFY news segment on Thursday, you’ll get a nice “oil spill smell” nearby.
The leak occurred just days before Nebraska will decide whether or not to approve a route for the proposed northern leg of the long-disputed Keystone XL project, which would transport oil from the Canadian tar sands to the U.S.
Environmental groups said that Nebraska officials should consider the spill a “stark warning.” Just one problem: They can’t. A 2011 Nebraska law prevents state regulators from taking pipeline safety or possible leaks into account in their decisions — a rule that Nebraska’s Public Service Commission plans to abide by.
The spill is not Keystone’s first, but it is its largest — the 18th biggest spill in the U.S. overall since 2010, according to government data. And it’s possible the 210,000-gallon figure could still rise, given that oil companies often revise their initial estimates to be significantly higher.